Cahill tells BBC of alleged rape by IRA man

Grandniece of Joe Cahill tells ‘Spotlight’ programme of abuse by IRA member

Maíria Cahill: alleged that in 1997 she underwent a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA.

Maíria Cahill: alleged that in 1997 she underwent a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA.


The grandniece of IRA figure Joe Cahill, who alleged she was raped by an IRA member, has claimed she had to face her alleged assailant in a republican-style court.

Maíria Cahill also said yesterday that several people, numbering in “double figures”, had contacted her to recount similar experiences at the hands of IRA members.

Ms Cahill, who has waived her right to anonymity, told BBC’s Spotlight programme she had been subjected to what was described as a republican “kangaroo court”. She alleged that in 1997 she underwent a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA. She was 16 at the time.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt has raised the allegations with PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, while the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire is investigating how the PSNI investigated the case.

“We have received a complaint that police failed to investigate an alleged rape. Our inquiries are ongoing,” said a spokesman for the ombudsman.

The Assembly justice committee is also to investigate the Spotlight allegations.

Earlier this year the alleged suspect was acquitted of the sexual assault charges. Other republicans who were separately charged in connection with the alleged IRA questioning of Ms Cahill were also acquitted.

Withdrew allegations

The prosecution put forward no case when Ms Cahill withdrew her allegations before they could be tested in court. Ms Cahill said she was initially prepared to give evidence, but that, in the end, she did not testify because she was unhappy with the way the police dealt with the case.

“I just felt the odds were stacked against me right from the get-go,” she said.

The BBC said the truth behind the case may never be known but the purpose of the Spotlight programme was to investigate “the wider context of her claims”.

Ms Cahill claimed after the alleged abuse ended she was summoned to a meeting with the IRA. She said that in early 2000, after more than six months of questioning by the IRA, she was brought face-to-face with her alleged abuser in a “kangaroo court” type session that was supposed to determine the truth.

“They told me that they were going to read my body language to see who was telling the truth and that they were going to bring him into a room,” she added.

Ms Cahill is from one of the republican movement’s best-known families. Her great-uncle was the late Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA.

Meetings with Adams

Ms Cahill said that Joe Cahill told her that if he had known how she had been allegedly treated by the republican movement he would have told her to go to the RUC.

Ms Cahill said she had a number of meetings with the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams about her allegations. She said that at one stage he said to her: “Well you know, Maíria, abusers can be extremely manipulative. And you know . . . sometimes they are that manipulative that the people who have been abused actually enjoy it.”

She said she got very angry and said to him, “Well, I didn’t enjoy it.”

In a statement last night Mr Adams said: “In the Spotlight programme, broadcast last night, Maíria Cahill made an accusation relating to a meeting with myself. I totally refute the allegations Maíria made about our conversation.

“I met Maíria in good faith, at the behest of her cousin and my late friend Siobhán O’Hanlon. When I learned of the allegation of abuse from Siobhán, she told me that Maíria was refusing to go to the RUC.

“Siobhán and I met with Joe Cahill, who was Maíria’s uncle. We told Joe of the allegation and asked him to speak to Maíria about reporting this to the RUC. He did so. Maíria did not want to do this at that time. I have contacted my solicitor with regard to the allegations made against me in the Spotlight programme.”