A Cheann Comhairle,
Dáil Éireann meets today to discuss allegations made by Ms Maíria Cahill against the IRA and that organisation’s handling of them.
These are allegations of rape and abuse.
Since Ms Cahill brought such matters to public attention, her testimony has been both chilling and compelling.
It has been notably coherent, sanguine and consistent.
Above all it has been sincere and dignified
In short the polar opposite of the SF response whether it be here in the Dáil, on tv and radio in tweets, blogs or post-dinner remarks.
Yes, there are some who would say that Ms Cahill opted not to proceed with her case before a jury of her peers.
That she seeks now to have an assessment of the facts through Dáil privilege and the media.
But that logic does not apply in the context of the residual ‘rule’ and culture involving bank heists, racketeering, secret courts, punishment beatings, mutilations, executions, pay-offs, ‘community policing’ and of course ‘Republican Relocation’.
Equally Ms Cahill is an intelligent woman.
But she was also a terrified young woman because she knew the price that could be either paid or extracted for daring to breach Republican Omerta.
We must remember another woman who had dared to offend Republican sensibilities was missing.
She’d succumbed to her reflex and instinct as a mother.
So if offering a cushion meant being Disappeared with the attendant annihilation of the tender lives of ten young children
What then would it mean for a young woman to get into a witness box and volunteer evidence against the ‘volunteers’?
Dealing with the Allegations
As we know Ms Cahill’s situation found its way to the IRA
How she was raped violated by one of their own
The men and women who had the delusion and the gall to refer to themselves as Óglaigh na hÉireann
To a small few she had disclosed how over months forcibly and against what we know now is her formidable will she was ritually habitually degraded.
And no Deputy Adams, contrary to that chat with you, the one which she not so much recounts as vividly relives: she, as the victim, did not give her “manipulated” consent tacit or otherwise.
She as the victim felt horrified traumatised.
And when this shaken young woman had to face the unshakeable men of the IRA about this gross violation of her person, instead of manning up, instead of doing what real men would have done, which is to comfort her, to reassure her,that, yes, this was wrong and grievously, that, no none of this was her fault, they did the polar opposite.
Drawing themselves up to their full political height, their paramilitary might, they objectified her, humiliated her, degraded her all over again.
With their kangaroo court, their pop-psychology idiocy, they inflicted on this traumatised young woman an extravagant and exquisite cruelty.
Perhaps, in retrospect, they can tell us the “body language” for… I am distraught….. I am terrified….. I am repulsed.
Or, any of you Sinn Féin deputies, If your lexicon of such language is not to hand, you can look up there and see in one particular woman a body and mind and spirit that says in its dignity and stillness: “You humiliated me once, you injured me once , you defeated me once, but I will never give up.
“You will never win, because I will never be silenced.
And the IRA did this all of this simply because they could.
They did it because they had all the power and no responsibility.
They did it because as a secret ‘organisation’ they had their own logic, sensibility, system and rules.
Above all they had their own enthralling version of what constituted ‘crime’ and ‘punishment’.
And since they both had and were their own private army they could be judge, jury, banisher, executioner.
And like another institution with its arcane rules and logic and laws unto itself, it’s clear that in the case of Ms Cahill, Sinn Féin and the IRA put the institution first.
The allure of power and influence was just too much.
They covered up the abuse; moved the perpetrators around so the untouchables would remain untouchable.
It didn’t matter what terror they might cause; what damage they might do in these unlucky and unsuspecting communities.
But who cared about victim, once the institution, the organisation in all its power and its glory remained intact.
A kind of unholy collusion.
Republicans who thought so much of this Republic that would they honour us with their rapists, gift us their child-abusers.
Under that elite republican dispensation, Northern Ireland could be scoured, secured and sanctified, while down here, and incognito, their rejects and ejects, their undesirables and exiles could live with, even prey on our women and children.
We don’t know who these men are we don’t know what they have done since they arrived among us in their banishment.
But we need to know. And we intend to find out.
And today I say to Sinn Féin that if you want to rescue even a semblance of credibility from these events, you will tell the legitimate authorities exactly who these people are, be they ‘volunteers’ or ‘decommissioned’.
You will tell us where they are and what they are doing.
Because if they are a risk to our families, our society, we need to know, and to act and to protect them.
But as you do, spare us please the Sinn Féin torture of language, the stretching of credibility, the republican equivalent of ‘mental reservation’.
Remember Maya Angelou?
There is no more agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Down here you ‘buried’ the dangerous living along with the discarded dead.
At this point I should say that I welcome the letter from Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, where he suggests setting up a support mechanism for survivors of rape and abuse through the North-South Ministerial Council.
I agree with Mr McGuinness that perpetrators of such abuse must be subject to the law, and survivors deserving of “acknowledgement, support and justice”.
And since he says he was a senior member of the IRA I would ask him what knowledge he had of this case or others, and if, in keeping with the spirit of his letter, he would be willing to share it.
Indeed, I wish that members and followers of Sinn Féin shared Mr McGuinness’s views on how victims such as Ms Cahill should be treated.
I can but hope that their savagery a very particular savagery unleashed online towards Ms Cahill, self-illuminating as it is turns out to be as self-devouring as is deserved.
Deputy Adams, you asked me to meet four named individuals who were connected with the interrogation of Mairia Cahill.
I offered to do so. They declined.
Now you wish me to meet other individuals.
This purely diversionary tactic does not deflect from the issue at hand.
What I cannot accept is the attitude of Sinn Féin to Ms Cahill or to the families of this country.
Because unlike you Deputy Adams, and you Deputy MacDonald - your usually seismic rage and righteousness about victims now a clearly embedded pathological loyalty, your compulsive denial of a cover-up in the matter of Ms Cahill - how can you state categorically that there was no cover-up of the knowledge of sexual abuse?
How can you say categorically that there was no movement to safe houses of sex abusers?
This, when your own leader denied his own family member for many years.
You have reneged upon womanhood by your rejection of the testimony and of the failings to Maíria Cahill.
The abused have not gone away you know. Nor will they.
There will be other programmes - other court cases, other whistleblowers who need to be protected, and not in the way you dealt with them in the past.
Unlike you, I believe that the children of this Republic should not have to live with the risk posed by the IRA’s misfits, predators and outcasts.
Unlike Sinn Féin, I will not allow our children be imperilled by the delusion of your or any organisation that believes itself, though at this stage uselessly, to be above the law.
Whether they are rooted in ancient conclave or modern conflict, this Government has given them a clear message.
Our children and their lives are precious inviolate.
Never again will the rape and torture of those children be ignored or blindly tolerated in order to protect or preserve organisational power, standing or reputation.
Since coming to office just three years ago, Fine Gael and Labour have done more to make and keep our children safe than any government in the history of this Republic.
We are proud of this achievement.
For the first time, the children of Ireland have their own, full, designated Minister.
We held a referendum to recognise our children as citizens, in their own right, for the first time in the history of our Republic.
We have legislated on adoption and begun what is a major programme of legislative reform in the long-neglected area of child protection.
For example, the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information Concerning Offences against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act 2012; the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012, and Children First, that puts child-protection on a statutory footing.
We established the Child and Family Agency Tusla to protect Ireland's children from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect.
Yes, we gave this agency great powers, a great task.
And we too are charged with great responsibility, probity and accountability in every aspect of its operation in every area at every level.
In protecting our children, Tusla must adhere to strict and high standards: the tough protection demands of Children First and the constitutional rights, natural justice and fair procedure set out in the court decisions of Justices Barr and O'Neill.
To protect our children and support our families; those are the exacting standards to which the State and its agencies must and will be bound, particularly when Tusla faces such challenges in its caseload, caused not least by the increase in referrals from the necessary, tough demands of Children First.
Transforming our child-and-family services will not occur by edict or by ‘intention’ or by the speeches we make and listen to here today.
And as we know the business of child-protection is not sweet but involves, and frequently, the darkest and most disturbing aspects of our history our humanity.
Indeed, urgent is what our national response to child protection is and must be.
The cover-up of rape and abuse by Sinn Féin proves that for them it is the ‘elite republican family’ who must be protected.
We take a different view. Our priority is the ordinary families of the Republic.
And Ms Cahill in her revelations wants to protect those ordinary families across this island, North and South.
By freeing this and coming generations from the darkness of the past she sees her revelations as a way to open, and for all of us, a door into the light.
An all-island peace based not on secrets but on truth open and declared.
Crucially, it’s a peace that attends not just our geographical co-ordinates but the heart and soul of all who live on this island.
Because as a people and peoples we have been fractured, broken long enough in our national obsession with “putting away” people, truth, reality.
Magdalenes who gave us blinding albs, snowy tablecloths, generations sleeping on immaculate guilty sheets.
Mother- and-baby ‘homes’, industrial schools, reformatories, the ‘Madhouse’ - anything with a high-enough wall to block from our common sight a reminder of our fragility, a vestige of our vulnerability.
The intrinsic danger of our private selves, our hidden identity, our loneliness and longing.
As parents, we know in here that our children make us invincible and vulnerable - they remind us of who we are.
It is the same I believe for our country our nation.
That is why in this House, in this Dáil debate on the allegations of Ms Cahill and the matter of IRA and Sinn Féin - it is as it always must be: Children First.