Sinn Féin shirks its responsibility on abuse victims

Like an Alice in Wonderland character, the words chosen by the Sinn Féin president mean just what he chooses them to mean – neither more nor less


Child abuse is a despicable crime. But some people within Sinn Féin appear to have become so coarsened by decades of conflict that they have failed to appreciate its catastrophic impact on victims or take comprehensive action against the perpetrators. Sexual abuse may fall short of murder. But passing on a list of names, or inviting victims to come forward with their complaints, is a pathetic response by a party that hopes to enter government in this State. Sinn Féin should actively protect children by providing detailed information concerning republican offenders.

The terrible thing about child abuse is its addictive nature. Paedophiles move from one victim to the next, destroying young lives and leaving devastated families in their wake. Moving perpetrators to another jurisdiction or “exiling” them as punishment, as practised by the republican movement, had the effect of providing these predators with new and unsuspecting victims. That is why Sinn Féin, with its closely-knit organisation and intelligence system, should find and disclose the current location of all these individuals.

Paudie McGahon who, along with another young man in the Louth area, was raped by an IRA member in 1992, has accused Sinn Féin of trying to avoid any responsibility in the matter. A dual structure, involving crossover membership of the IRA and Sinn Féin existed at the time, but this was not being acknowledged. He also questioned the circumstances in which Mr Gerry Adams received a list of republican sex offenders that he subsequently gave to the Garda Síochána.

Sinn Féin marches to a different drum than other political parties. The rigidity of the tempo and the discipline demanded sets them apart. Leadership decisions are taken and ruthlessly implemented. Protection of the organisation and advancement of its agenda is all that matters. Truthfulness and accountability are optional extras, particularly when the past is involved. Like an Alice in Wonderland character, the words chosen by the Sinn Féin president mean just what he chooses them to mean – neither more nor less. Any questioning of partial presentations is dismissed as being politically motivated. The party is now promoting the image of a concerned but blameless victim.

This controversy is not about opinion polls or political point-scoring. It is about vile abuse, the destruction of innocence and the deliberate cover-up of that activity. One hundred cases of child sexual abuse may have been investigated within the republican movement. But details of those inquiries are being withheld. Mr Adams says he is a legislator and will not become involved in any investigations. It is not good enough. Young people remain at risk on both sides of the border for so long as Sinn Féin refuses to cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies.