Kenny attacks Sinn Féin and tells Dáil IRA covered up abuse and protected ‘untouchables’

Taoiseach launches attack on Gerry Adams in wake of Maíria Cahill claims

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has launched a strongly worded attack on Sinn Féin and the republican movement in the wake of the allegations by Belfast woman Maíria Cahill of rape and cover-up.

He said the IRA “covered up abuse, moved the perpetrators around so the untouchables would remain untouchable”.

“They thought so much of this Republic that they would honour their rapists, gift us their child abusers under that so-called elite republican dispensation.

“Northern Ireland would be scoured, secured and sanctified while down here and incognito their rejects and ejects, their undesirables and their exiles could live with, even prey on our women and our children.”


He said to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: "If you want to rescue any semblance of credibility from these events you will tell the legitimate authorities exactly who these people are."

He said the republican movement “buried the dangerous living along with the discarded dead”.

Opening a three-hour debate on allegations regarding sexual abuse by members of the provisional republican movement, he said Ms Cahill was ritually and habitually degraded.

Addressing Mr Adams and comments Ms Cahill alleged he made to her, the Taoiseach said "she as the victim did not give her manipulated consent tacit or otherwise.

“She felt horrified and traumatised and when this shaking young woman had to face the unshakeable men of the IRA about this gross violation of her very person.”

Mr Kenny said that “instead of manning up, instead of doing what real men would have done, which would have been to comfort her, to reassure her that yes this was wrong and grievous, that no none of this was her fault, they did the polar opposite”.

“Drawing themselves up to their full political height, their paramilitary weight, they objectified her, they humiliated her, they degraded her all over again.”

He said the IRA did all this simply because they could, they had all the power and no responsibility.

They had their own enthralling vision of what constituted crime and what constituted punishment.

He said republicans had their own private army they could react as judge, jury, vanisher and executioner.

Mr Kenny said the debate was brought about by the courage of Mairia Cahill and the allegations she has made.

Addressing Mr Adams, he said: “You have a duty as Uachtaráin of your party to find out who these people who are moved where they are and give that information to the gardaí.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said she had been struck by Mairia Cahill’s “bravery, courage and determination” after listening to her for an hour. “She also lifted the lid on the reality of life in a community under the brutal control of the IRA, a community where the need to protect the abuser trumped the needs of the victim, lest the reputation of the IRA suffer,” Ms Burton added.

“And a community whose political leaders continue to live and work in the midst of children, contrary to all the rules of child protection....”

The Tánaiste challenged Ms McDonald to apply the same standards as she did when condemning the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sex abuse. “In particular, does she apply this standard to the ‘powerful man’ who leads her own party ?” Ms Burton said Gerry Adams’s response to the Mairia Cahill case had been “one of denial, evasion and seeking to protect the IRA”. She added: “He denies any knowledge of an internal IRA investigation or of meeting Mairia as she states. He evades any responsibility for IRA and Sinn Féin involvement, claiming that the courts have cleared the abuser.”

Meath East TD Regina Doherty said she had the names of eight alleged abusers relocated to the Republic by Sinn Féin.

“To be honest with you, I am too afraid to name them here today,’’ she added. “So I have exercised my duty by making an appointment with local sergeant on Friday morning to hand over that information to the Garda.’’

Ms Doherty challenged Mr Adams to tell the House about an internal investigation, led by him and other senior Sinn Féin politicians, which identified in excess of 100 victims of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Sinn Féin or IRA members. “What did it uncover; did you report it to the gardaí ?’’

She said she was disgusted and disappointed beyond belief that Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald would “so cheaply sell your integrity for political positioning and that your naked political ambition would cause you to fail the children of our nation, to fail families and victims and all in the name of a cheap power grab’’.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times