Ó Snodaigh says abuse claims will ‘weigh heavily’ with voters

Sinn Féin TD says party critics had ‘made up their minds’ prior to Paudie McGahon case

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that sex abuse claims will ‘weigh heavily’ on the minds of voters heading into next year’s general election. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said that sex abuse claims will ‘weigh heavily’ on the minds of voters heading into next year’s general election. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said the current sex abuse claims made by Paudie McGahon will “weigh heavily” on the minds of some voters heading into next year’s general election.

Responding to a question about his party’s poll prospects following the latest rape claims involving IRA members earlier this week, Mr Ó Snodaigh agreed that such cases will remain a prominent issue for some people at the ballot box in 2016.

“It will weigh heavily on some people more than others. But there are people who genuinely believe what Sinn Féin has said on this and they will continue to support us.

“People’s support for Sinn Féin isn’t based on how we deal with different controversies, it’s based on hard work over many years and political policies we’ve put forward.”

Mr Ó Snodaigh said he believes the issue has been adequately dealt with by the party leadership.

A BBC documentary aired earlier this week detailing the case of Louth man Paudie McGahon, now aged 40, who was allegedly raped by a member of the IRA in his family home when he was 17-years-old.

According to Mr McGahon, Sinn Féin councillor Pearse McGeough and former Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan knew about the claims but failed to inform the relevant authorities when it was brought to their attention.

‘Political capital’

Speaking at a launch event for his party’s Easter Rising commemorations for 2015, Mr Ó Snodaigh said other parties are seeking to make political capital out of a sex abuse case which parties leaders have known about since last October.

“There is political capital being made of this, because the details around Paudie McGahon [were] known to political leaders last year around all the furore of the Mairia Cahill case . . . It’s interesting that the main people who are criticising Sinn Féin are its political opponents.”

Mr Ó Snodaigh said that, amidst the public outcry in recent days, he remains unconvinced that publicising the details of abuse allegations is in the interests of victims and justice.

“It’s very strange that this is a drip drip feed - it doesn’t take away [from the fact that] these are victims and sometimes their best interests aren’t served in public. But sometimes [they are].

“There is a danger when you go in the public spotlight in that way that it can kind of endanger future prosecutions, and that’s a decision that Paudie would have weighed up himself.

“Paudie took his decision and hopefully he wasn’t pressurised into that, and hopefully he gains some relief from it. But at the end of the day it’s not relief he wants from it, it’s justice, so hopefully that will come in time,” the Dublin South-Central TD said.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said that most of the people criticising Sinn Féin over the latest allegations have “already made their minds up” about the party before Mr McGahon’s case came to light.