Video: Maíria Cahill meets ‘compassionate’ Taoiseach

Belfast rape victim says she told Kenny she ‘wasn’t discussing teddybears’ in meeting with Gerry Adams

Maíria Cahill has said Taoiseach Enda Kenny was sensitive and compassionate during their meeting at Government Buildings.

Speaking after their one-and-a-half-hour meeting, she reiterated her claim that she had discussed with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at a meeting her allegation that she was raped by an IRA member.

“I met him from 2000 right through to 2006. I mean, we weren’t discussing his teddybears, he knows exactly what we were discussing,” she added.

She said she told Mr Kenny perpetrators of child sexual abuse had been relocated to the Republic from Northern Ireland. She also told him rape crisis centres needed more resources.

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Ms Cahill said she had received a direct message via Twitter from Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald outlining her contact details.

Ms Cahill told reporters she replied she would meet Ms McDonald when she was “prepared to say I’m telling the truth”.

In the Dáil today, Mr Kenny described Ms Cahill as “a courageous, confident, brave young woman who is a force to be reckoned with”.

He told TDs he had the “privilege’’ of meeting Ms Cahill. “She overcame the horror of being raped, to face down the IRA and its generals, secret or otherwise,’’ he added.

During heated exchanges with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who again denied a party cover-up on the issue, the Taoiseach said he would meet those against whom allegations had been made.

Mr Kenny 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.

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 Maíria Cahill has to tell is not just powerful, it will have serious consequences,” he added.

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

Earlier, Ms Cahill said it is “disgusting” that she has to “relive her experience” again and again through the media.

Speaking on her way into Government Buildings to meet Mr Kenny, Ms Cahill reiterated her allegation that Sinn Féin was covering up child abuse.

She alleges she was raped by an IRA member and brought before a ‘kangaroo court’.

“Everytime I’m asked a question in relation to my past from the media I have to relive my experience over and over again. Gerry [Adams] just needs to simply tell the truth,” she said.

“I’ve been telling the truth all along. I just think its so disgusting that a victim of sexual abuse has to come out again and again and again and be forced to relive their experience,” she said. “What he needs to do now is go further and say she was telling the truth all along.”

Sinn Féin TDs have continued to back Mr Adams’s stance on the Cahill controversy, while indicating the issue was not being raised by their constituents.

There was however some sense that Mr Adams’ reference to how the IRA dealt with alleged sex offenders, published on his blog on Sunday night, should have been ventilated sooner.

Mr Adams said the IRA shot or expelled alleged sex offenders on occasion. He described this practice as “not appropriate” as it failed victims by leaving them without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision.

The Sinn Féin leader said while he “refuted” Ms Cahill’s allegations against himself and the party, “it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans.”

Dublin Rape Crisis centre chief executive Ellen O’Malley Dunlop has revealed that Ms Cahill alerted her organisation in advance of the broadcast of the BBC Spotlight programme in which she made her allegations last week.

Ms Dunlop said the organisation appreciated the opportunity to highlight its 24-hour helpline number 1800 778888 on social media outlets “for anyone whose memories would be triggered, which can happen”.

She added: “It was very generous of Maíria Cahill to think of other victims and make contact with us.”

Ms Dunlop said abuse victims’ memories of abuse could return, “particularly victims of child sexual abuse”, when such programmes were aired.

The Oireachtas Justice Committee may move to invite Ms Cahill and others including Mr Adams in to inquire into the manner in which the party and the IRA handled allegations of sexual abuse in the nationalist community

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Padraig MacLochlainn said today the Oireachtas justice committee had repeatedly refused to deal with serious cases including murder cases.

He said Mr Kenny and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald had “over 200 cases on their desk”, while victims “can’t get a hearing”.

Mr MacLochlainn said he had not spoken to Mr Adams about the Cahill controversy,

“I absolutely do not believe the comments that were attributed to Gerry Adams,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “I know the character of Gerry Adams. I know him very well and I believe his account of these matters.”

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times