Prosecute anyone who covered up abuse, says McDonald

Sinn Féin deputy leader also says no evidence of cover up of sexual abuse within party

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said anyone who covers up sexual abuse – including anyone in her own party – should face prosecution.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said anyone who covers up sexual abuse – including anyone in her own party – should face prosecution.

 

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary McDonald has said anybody found to have covered up child sexual abuse within any organisation, including Sinn Féin and the republican movement, should face the full rigours of the law.

She was responding to comments made by a Belfast rape victim who said Ms McDonald had previously argued that those who covered up sexual abuse within the Catholic Church should be prosecuted. Maíria Cahill called on the Sinn Féin TD to extend the demand to Sinn Féin.

Ms Cahill, a granddaughter of the late IRA leader Joe Cahill, told the BBC Spotlight programme this week she was raped by a leading republican in 1997 and was later subjected to an interrogation by the IRA about the case.

Ms McDonald told The Irish Times today Ms Cahill’s description of her stance on the Catholic Church was correct and she held the same view on any organisation, including Sinn Féin, which covered up child sexual abuse. However, she also pointed out there was no evidence that anybody within the Sinn Féin organisation had ever covered up child abuse.

“Those comments attributed to what unfolded in the Catholic Church were correct. It’s my position that, irrespective of organisation, if they are guilty of either perpetrating abuse or covering up abuse they must face the full rigours of the law without fear or favour.

“There is nobody within Sinn Féin who has been shown to have covered up child abuse. That is clear.

“My position is very clear on vindicating children’s rights and on bringing all [who breach them] to justice. That is my consistent position and I say it without fear or favour,” she said.

Ms Cahill said on Spotlight this week she had met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about the case. She alleged he made some comments about the manner in which abusers sometimes manipulate the victims to an extent “that the people who have been abused actually enjoy it”.

Mr Adams has specifically and categorically denied that he said any such thing and said he was “personally horrified at the allegation that I would make the comments Maíria has attributed to me”.

In response Ms Cahill said she was appalled at Mr Adams’ denial of her account of the conversation about the rape and accused him of “despicable behaviour”.

Ms Cahill, who spoke to reporters after speaking to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, also pointed to Ms McDonald’s comments on the Catholic Church.

“I am challenging Mary Lou McDonald to come out again and call on those members within Sinn Féin currently, and I don’t think there is any doubt about this, who have been found to have covered up cases of child sexual abuse, to be arrested, prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law.”