FG TD seeks laws for IRA abuse case whistleblowers

Fine Gael TD met gardaí detailing nine cases where suspects moved south

 Regina Doherty met gardaí on Friday.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Regina Doherty met gardaí on Friday. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A Fine Gael TD has called for legislation that will allow whistleblowers to come forward with evidence about sexual abuse by members of paramilitary groups without themselves having to face charges of membership.

Regina Doherty, a TD for Meath East, made a statement to the Garda on Friday detailing nine cases in which the IRA “facilitated” sex abusers from within its ranks to move across the border into the Republic.

Information about the cases concerning the nine alleged abusers was passed on to Ms Doherty by a source with detailed knowledge of the organisation and the cases.

The allegations were conveyed to her verbally by the informant but included details of names, dates, and locations, both in the North and in the Republic.

Ms Doherty has not disclosed the name of her informant but it is understood to be a person with detailed knowledge of the IRA.

She said today that what might be needed is a legislative change that would allow people with information about sexual crimes to come forward without having to face charges of membership if a proscribed organisation.

Similar legislation was introduced in 2001 to facilitate former paramilitary members conveying information about those who had been “disappeared” by the IRA.

Ms Doherty made a detailed statement on each of the allegations to gardaí. She told The Irish Times today that the cases span a quarter of a century, with the oldest dating from the 1980s and the newest from the 2000s.

She said the separate cases of alleged abuse took place across Northern Ireland. The locations included Belfast, Lurgan and Bangor.

In the nine cases, the IRA facilitated the members who faced allegations of abuse, to be dispersed to three counties in the South: Dublin; Louth and Donegal.

She said that in most of the alleged abuse cases about which she was informed, the victims were young girls (some as young as 10) and teenagers, although one case related to the alleged abuse of an adult.

She said that in all cases the alleged perpetrators were moved but said she was unaware if any of the men were convicted. Ms Doherty said she had looked very closely at the proposal by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that there be a north-south commission to investigate the allegations, which she said was a good idea.

“It’s also important to find some mechanism were people with information can come forward and give information.

“... What we do not need is people to be afraid that Garda Síochána will say you are obviously a member of an illegal organisation,” she said.

Ms Doherty harshly criticised Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald last week during a debate on the allegations made by Belfast woman Maíria Cahill that she was sexually abused as a teenager by an IRA member. Honing in on Ms McDonald, Ms Doherty asserted she was “disgusted” at the contrast between her criticism of the the Catholic Church which she accused of protecting abusers and her lack of criticism of the Provisional movement on the same issue.