Adams regretful on treatment of alleged IRA abuse victim
SF leader speaks ahead of BBC TV Spotlight show on alleged victim Paudie McGahon
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has told the Dáil the treatment of Co Louth man Paudie McGahon (above), who alleged sexual abuse by a senior IRA member was a “matter of very, very deep regret for me”. Photograph: BBC screengrab
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has told the Dáil the treatment of a Co Louth man who alleged sexual abuse by a senior IRA member was a “matter of very, very deep regret for me”.
Mr Adams was speaking in advance of a BBC TV Spotlight programme about Paudie McGahon, who also alleged he was brought before a “kangaroo court” where the IRA offered to kill or exile the abuser.
The Sinn Féin leader said that “from what I have read that Paudie McGahon clearly feels badly let down”.
He said Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny “both make the assertion that some of these abusers were associated with republicanism”.
He said: “If that’s the case, they didn’t do that in our name. They didn’t do that in the names of the people who suffered for the republican cause over a very long time.”
Mr Adams told the Dáil: “Paudie feels badly let down. Nothing I may say may change that, but I have to say that it is a matter of very, very deep regret for me and he does need support and he does need justice.”
He added: “I am assured, contrary to what the Fianna Fáil leader has said, that when this case was brought to the attention of local representatives, that the victim of the alleged abuse was advised in person and in writing to go to An Garda Síochána.”
He accused the Taoiseach of failing to give a “substantive response” to Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, who had written to him a number of times since November about the establishment of an all-Ireland process for victims of sexual abuse across the island during the Northern Ireland conflict.
Mr Kenny told the Dáil: “ There should not be and cannot be any hiding place for those who carry out these kinds of offences.”
Mr Kenny said he had responded to Mr McGuinness. He told the Dáil: “I’m prepared to work with the Executive and the Deputy First Minister and the North South Council,” adding it was not simple to set up a system with two different legal systems in operation.
The Taoiseach later said such a process was already in place, “but it’s not a formal end of the North/South Ministerial Council, it’s bilateral”.
He said Mr McGuinness proposed a process to support victims of abuse in all communities.
“That’s happening with the supports that are available, North and South. He said counselling supports were also available North and South and to facilitate victims and survivors in accessing the justice system and that happens, that’s there.
“I’m not sure what more he refers to that can actually happen here.”
Mr Kenny said Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness “could issue very straight statements to the followers of your party or those members who you knew, members of the Provisional IRA, to clear up matters once and for all”.
During heated exchanges at Taoiseach’s questions, Mr Martin, who raised the Paudie McGahon case, said “the McGuinness formula is a con job in many respects”.
He claimed Sinn Féin was attempting to dilute republican responsibility and was acting with “cynicism”.
Mr Martin, who accused Mr Adams of being a former chief of staff of the IRA, said that in Mr McGahon’s case it was “not the usual divide between military and civil here. They both acted in concord,” he said of Sinn Féin and the IRA.
Mr Martin also said those who “speak out should be allowed to do so without any attempt to undermine them” , adding there had been a vicious online campaign for the past five months since Maíria Cahill made allegations of sexual abuse by a senior IRA member, and a similar kangaroo court.
Mr Martin asked the Sinn Féin leader: “Will he please call off the dogs of war?”
‘Campaign of harassment’
Mr Adams said: “Not only do victims need and require and have the right to support, but no one should be subject to any campaign of harassment online or in any other way.”
He told the House the agencies to deal with allegations of abuse are An Garda Síochána and the social services, or the PSNI and the social services in the North.
Mr Martin believed “a cross-Border mechanism should be introduced” to deal with the issue.
This should be done for victims “in order to set some sense of closure on the abuse, that they have some opportunity to articulate that and bring it forward to a proper forum with the right background and support”.
He added that it should not be avoided “just because it might not suit or be politically convenient”.