An independent review of how the prosecution case was handled in the Maíria Cahill case is to be established, the North's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory, QC, announced today.
Mr McGrory, who is head of the North’s Public Prosecution Service, made his announcement in the face of criticism of how both the PSNI and the PPS dealt with Ms Cahill’s allegations that she was raped by an IRA member and then subjected to an IRA “kangaroo court”.
Mr McGrory said the review “will consider all aspects of the prosecution” case and test whether “there are lessons to be learned”.
Ms Cahill alleged that in 1997 as a 16-year-old she was raped by an IRA member, and that subsequently she was “interrogated” by IRA members who wanted to determine whether she or her alleged rapist was telling the truth.
The alleged rapist and four IRA members who allegedly questioned her were all acquitted in separate cases after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence. Ms Cahill complained about how the authorities dealt with the case.
“I have carefully considered the range of issues that have been raised following the recent edition of BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme, ‘A Woman Alone with the IRA’,” said Mr McGrory today.
“While it would not be appropriate for the Public Prosecution Service to enter into a media discussion about evidential aspects of these particular cases, I consider that an independent, external scrutiny of our processes and procedures is warranted,” he said.
“It is of concern to the PPS to maintain public confidence in our services and in the wider criminal justice system,” added Mr McGrory. “We understand how difficult it can be for victims and witnesses to come forward, particularly in cases involving sexual abuse offences and we will do all in power to ensure that they and the wider public can feel confident in the independent role of the PPS.”
“The PPS takes all of its decisions independently, applying the test for prosecution without fear or favour,” continued Mr McGrory. “I consider that there are particular challenges in prosecuting complex and interlinked cases, as in this instance, involving serious sexual abuse and terrorist related charges and involving multiple complainants and multiple defendants.
“This independent review will consider all aspects of the prosecution of these cases and if there are lessons to be learned, we will do so, openly and transparently.”
Separately, the North's Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire is investigating how the PSNI dealt with Ms Cahill's allegations.