Gerry Adams ‘personally horrified’ by Cahill allegations
Grandniece of Joe Cahill told ‘Spotlight’ programme of abuse by IRA member and subsequent meetings with Sinn Féin leader
Maria Cahill speaking at Leinster House today with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (left). Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
“I’m personally horrified that Maíria Cahill attributed remarks to me that I did not make...I’m a father, I’m a grandfather, I live in the real world. I would never make the remark that is being attributed to me,” Mr Adams said. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has this afternoon insisted he did not discuss Maíria Cahill’s allegations of rape by an IRA member with her and was “personally horrified” at remarks she attributed to him in a recent television programme.
The grandniece of leading IRA figure Joe Cahill, Ms Cahill told BBC’s Spotlight she had to face her alleged assailant in a republican-style court and had a number of meetings with Mr Adams about her allegations.
Ms Cahill alleged that at one stage Mr Adams 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.”
In an interview on RTÉ’s News at One programme today, Mr Adams said it was “reprehensible” that the BBC had broadcast Ms Cahill’s remark and that was why he had contacted his solicitor.
“I’m personally horrified that Maíria Cahill attributed remarks to me that I did not make...I’m a father, I’m a grandfather, I live in the real world. I would never make the remark that is being attributed to me,” Mr Adams said.
He said he did not know Ms Cahill “terribly well, but I knew her well enough”. Ms Cahill’s cousin the late Siobhán O’Hanlon was at that time Mr Adams “personal assistant and friend”, he said.
Mr Adams said Ms O’Hanlon was very concerned about Ms Cahill and “when it later transpired” she had been abused, he and Ms O’Hanlon went to Joe Cahill. “It was I who said to Joe Cahill, ’Would you go and talk to Maíria and tell her to go to the RUC about this issue’.”
Asked about his own meeting with Ms Cahill, he said he could not be sure of the exact date but thought it was around the year 2000.
“We met formally, if you like, by me saying I want to talk to you, are you in diffs (sic), Are you ok?”
However, he said the rape allegation was never discussed, “if I have it right”. Mr Adams said Ms Cahill was in some personal difficulties, “presumably because of this rape allegation”.
Mr Adams said he met Ms Cahill specifically at the request of Ms O’Hanlon after “either she had been taken into hospital, or she was ill overnight, or she had some row or something”.
He said he did not think Ms O’Hanlon was aware of “the source of all this” and he certainly was not. He also said Ms Cahill did not raise the allegation that she had to go before a republican-style court.
Asked if he found her credible in terms of her statements about the rape itself, Mr Adams said he did not want to comment on that “given that that’s been before the court”.
He said she had been through a harrowing experience.
Asked if he found her comments about the republican-style court credible, Mr Adams said it had been dealt with by the court. Asked if that was how the IRA did business at the time, Mr Adam said: “Well I can’t comment on that what I do know is that it shouldn’t have, if that’s what transpired.”
He said those charged had been acquitted in court. Asked if Ms Cahill had named her alleged rapist, Mr Adams said they had not discussed the matter.
“When I went to talk to Maíria, as a very busy person who knew this young woman because of who she was and because she was in and around Sinn Féin structures and so on and so forth, I mean, it wasn’t a big lengthy meeting.”
Earlier in the interview, Mr Adams said he had had to deal with abuse in his own family. “I speak from experience when I say allegations of rape have to be treated very, very sensitively, victims have to be treated with respect”. Victims of abuse had come to him because of his own experience, he said, and he would continue to work with them.
Mr Adams disclosed in December 2009 that his late father, who was also called Gerry, had emotionally, physically and sexually abused family members over many years. Mr Adams said he was not abused by his father.
He has rejected “unconditionally” claims from some Unionist politicians that he committed an offence in relation to how he dealt with his brother Liam’s sexual abuse of Liam’s daughter Áine. Last November, Liam Adams was jailed for 16 years for repeatedly raping and indecently assaulting his daughter Áine when she was aged between four and nine years of age.
Ms Cahill, who has waived her right to anonymity, said in the 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.
Ms Cahill has also said several people, numbering in “double figures”, had contacted her to recount similar experiences at the hands of IRA members.
She said she got very angry with Mr Adams during their meeting and said to him, “Well, I didn’t enjoy it.”
In the aftermath of the broadcast, Mr Adams released a statement. Issued on Wednesday night, it 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.”