Miriam Lord: Sinn Féin plays victim as McGahon row rages on

Adams hurt at notion his party alone is taking the rap for turning blind eye to abuse

More than  30,000 republicans were involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland, any of whom could have been abusers, Pádraig MacLochlainn told Newstalk

More than 30,000 republicans were involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland, any of whom could have been abusers, Pádraig MacLochlainn told Newstalk

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Why is Sinn Féin being singled out here? It’s most unfair.

You can’t expect a political party/republican movement the size of Sinn Fein to know about every senior IRA operative who’s been accused of sex abuse. And you certainly can’t expect the party leader to know, particularly as he was never in the IRA.

The party’s Justice Spokesman, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn endeavoured to explain this on Newstalk yesterday morning. Upwards of 30,000 republicans were involved in the “conflict” in Northern Ireland, any of whom could have been abusers. (Law of averages and all that.)

So many people could have been at it. Impossible to know.

Meanwhile Gerry Adams, for two days running, has been very hurt at the notion that Sinn Féin alone seems to taking the rap for allegedly turning a blind eye over the years to sex abusers operating within the wider republican ranks. Like, wasn’t everyone at it? Isn’t everyone?

That’s why he’s very much in favour of a “process”. This will be across the board and an all-Ireland body, for everybody. Martin McGuinness came up with the idea. Gerry is very annoyed at Enda because he isn’t responding to Martin’s suggestion.

Whatever about his party having questions to answer, he said he is sure members of Fianna Fáil and members of Fine Gael have been through the courts charged with offences.

He didn’t make a distinction about the nature of those courts, though. They were not Kangaroo Courts.

Republican cause

And the Sinn Féin leader repeated for the second day that whoever raped teenager Paudie McGahon “did not act in my name, or the name of Sinn Féin” or in the name of those people who “suffered for the republican cause” over the years.

So the abuse was not done in the name of the IRA, but in whose name were the alleged cover-ups committed? And what does it matter?

Gerry Adams, and his party, accept that both Maíria Cahill and Paudie McGahon were raped.Both allege they were assaulted by senior figures in the republican movement.

This is why things get hazy for Gerry Adams, who has been President of Sinn Féin for over 30 years and insists he was never a member of the IRA.

Before he went into the Dáil yesterday afternoon, he did the round of radio stations following Tuesday night’s compelling edition of Spotlight, in which McGahon told of his rape, how he was threatened with murder by the IRA man who carried it out and how that individual later returned from exile to live in his area.

Broadcaster Pat Kenny asked Gerry Adams if he knows the name of the alleged rapist and he said he did.

“A prominent republican activist, is this a fair description of him?”

And Adams replied: “Let me say if he is, he didn’t do any of this, if its true, in the name of the republican cause or in my name.”

If he is? One would expect a man of Gerry’s top-level experience to recognise a senior activist.

Former Louth TD Arthur Morgan pitched up on his local station, LMFM.

Around the same time his former leader was agreeing that he knew the name of the alleged rapist, Morgan said: “I don’t know the identity of the man . . . I don’t know if I know him or not.”

And he was the man supposedly keeping Gerry in the loop.

McGahon said it was Morgan who told him his abuser was back in the area. But the former TD said it happened the other way around.

So Paudie tells Arthur that this senior IRA man who raped him is back in Louth. But, strangely, the victim never said where the man was living.

“I’ve no idea where the guy is – I’d no idea then, I’ve still no idea where he was.”

But, said the interviewer, you knew a child rapist was living locally? Not at all, said the former TD. “Not locally, not locally . . . it wasn’t in our region.”

Most confusing.

And back in Leinster House,the Taoiseach insisted that questions remained unanswered.

“I listened this morning to the interview given by the president of Sinn Féin, Deputy Adams and found it quite incredible. If this happened to any other leader of any other party down here . . .”

He paused.

Labour’s Robert Dowds filled in the missing words: “He’d would be gone. She’d be gone.”

Cover-ups

But Gerry Adams insisted there had been no cover-ups.

But he can’t say where senior republicans who allegedly abused children, exiled by kangaroo courts to other parts of Ireland, might be living.

As he said earlier on radio, it’s not his or his party’s job to carry out investigations.

Enda outlined what would normally happen. “If a similar situation were to arise for the leader of Fianna Fáil, for myself or for the leader of the Labour Party, we would be expected not only to ask the relevant questions but to find out who ordered the kangaroo court, who attended it and where they are now. If a member of any branch of Fine Gael around the country was exiled, I would find him or her in 10 minutes.”

Which is true.

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