Taoiseach describes meeting Maíria Cahill as a ‘privilege’

Taoiseach said he would also meet the people referred to by Mr Adams

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he would meet those named by alleged rape victim Mairia Cahill during angry Dáil exchanges with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yesterday.

Mr Adams said that Mr Kenny had met with Ms Cahill and listened to her allegations. “Will you now facilitate a meeting with those she accuses? These are named people.”

The Taoiseach said he would meet the people referred to by Mr Adams. “I won’t stand in judgement of them; I will ask them the questions that you won’t answer,” he added.

Mr Kenny was taking Opposition Leaders’ Questions in the House after his 90-minutes meeting with Ms Cahill in Government buildings.


He had challenged Mr Adams to confirm if he knew, as president of Sinn Féin, whether Ms Cahill was required to attend in a room with three men and her abuser, all members of the IRA, and that a second meeting took place some months later.

In the intervening period, she was not allowed to go to the PSNI, said Mr Kenny. He also asked Mr Adams if he was aware of people being moved to the Republic, having been involved in sexual abuse in the North.

“I think the story Mairia Cahill has to tell is not just powerful, it will have serious consequences,” said Mr Kenny.

Mr Adams said Mr Kenny should bring those against whom allegations had been made in and ask the questions he was asserting as fact.

“I refute the allegations that have been made about me and about Sinn Féin members who assure me that all they did, in their engagements, conversations and their work with Mairia Cahill, was to help her,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Kenny described Ms Cahill as “a courageous, confident, brave young woman who is a force to be reckoned with”. He said he had the “privilege” of meeting her.

“She overcame the horror of being raped, to face down the IRA and its generals, secret or otherwise,” he added. “Everybody in this House knows the horror of rape; it is not just a violation, it is about control and about power.”

Mr Kenny agreed to a request from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a Dáil debate on the issue.

Shake a person

Mr Martin said the story relating to the IRA interrogation of Ms Cahill would shake any person who heard it. Mr Martin said members knew that Ms Cahill was sworn to silence by Sinn Féin-IRA, adding that there were media reports of another abuse victim.

He said that Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald had said that the most powerful men in the Catholic Church had conspired to protect abusers of children in the Dublin archdiocese.

“The most powerful men within the IRA interrogated victims of abuse at the hands of leading members of the IRA,” Mr Martin said. “That happened.”

Mr Adams said he was conscious that there might be victims who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve cases. He insisted that Sinn Féin had not engaged in a cover-up as the party’s “political enemies” had claimed.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

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