ENDA KENNY AND JOAN Burton have strongly criticised Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams this afternoon in the wake of fresh claims about abuse in the republican movement and how it was dealt with.
The pair were responding to revelations in last night’s BBC Spotlight programme, where a man alleged that he was abused by an IRA volunteer and later subjected to a kangaroo court process.
Speaking at the launch of the government’s IFS 2020 strategy in Dublin today, the Taoiseach said that Adams had not dealt with the matter at all.
Kenny went as far as to claim that in an interview on Morning Ireland earlier the interviewer, Gavin Jennings, had been bullied by Adams and “advised to read out certain things”.
“This is a very serious matter. A man has made an allegation of being raped and abused by a senior member of the IRA. Deputy Adams believes that report, therefore we need to know are there other people, as Mairia Cahill outlined, that have been moved into this jurisdiction?” Kenny said.
There could well be children at risk from people like that. We need to know, and hear statements from both Deputy Adams and Deputy First Minister McGuinness, who admitted on many occasions that he had been a member of the IRA himself, about the safe houses in the country here.
“We need to know from the leader of the Sinn Féin party, did he speak to the councillor who set up the process by which this kangaroo court operated? Does he know who those people were? Does he not know where the alleged perpetrator of this rape and abuse is?”
He said if this happened in any other party “there would be absolute mayhem” adding there may be children at risk in the Republic and the North as a result of the matter not being cleared up.
At the same event, the Tánaiste said Gerry Adams “needs to get real on the issue” saying the programme last night would have left viewers “distressed”.
Even in conflicts right around the globe, people who are warriors are very often seeing sexual power as something to be exercised as part of conflict. We know that from conflicts around the world, particularly in relation to women, but also in relation to young men.
And we just don’t know as yet what exactly was the culture of Sinn Féin in this particular respect and they haven’t really got down to answering any of the questions and only they can answer those questions.
What we learned on Spotlight
On last night’s BBC NI programme, alleged IRA abuse victim Paudie McGahon has spoken about his experience at a ‘kangaroo’ court which he says was run by Sinn Féin.
He said he was raped by an IRA volunteer when he was 17.
McGahon, who lives in Ardee Co Louth, said that when he broke his silence in 2002, he went to his local Sinn Féin councillor, and as a result an IRA ‘kangaroo court’ was held.
He told BBC Spotlight about this ‘kangaroo court’:
The manner is dominant. It’s a mixture of hostile and dominant, They’re there to interview you on what happened. You may as well be sitting in front of a judge and jury. They shook hands and said ‘we’re very sorry about what happened but we’ll be dealing with this. Don’t be talking to anybody else now, trust us when we tell you, we’ll deal with this’. It was a roundabout way of saying ‘don’t go to the Guards’.
He told the programme that at a second meeting, the IRA offered to shoot his alleged abuser before sending him into exile.
McGahon said he was told the alleged abuser admitted to abusing him and others.
Gerry Adams response
Adams said this morning that he believes McGahon was raped and that the person he alleges raped him “should be subject to due process”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he called on anyone who has any information on this, or any other alleged cases, to bring it to the gardaí or PSNI.
He told Newstalk that he knows who the alleged perpetrator is, but told Morning Ireland that he doesn’t know where the individual is.
Asked on Morning Ireland if he believed McGahon was subject to a kangaroo court and the abuser subsequently exiled, he said he “may well have been” and “I don’t have anything to contradict what he says”.
“The fact is the IRA should not have been near any of these cases whatsoever. That was inappropriate,” said Adams.
He said he was told about the situation when McGahon met with Deputy Arthur Morgan.
Around that time I was simply briefed, not in the detail, but [that] there was sex abuse allegations and Arthur had dealt with it in that way.
His perpetrator wasn’t acting in my name… wasn’t acting in the Republican cause or in any way. He brings shame to what many people have sacrificed their lives for.
Adams also said that Sinn Féin “can’t force” people to go to the gardaí, but can support them to empower them.
Sinn Féin response
In the Dáil yesterday, Adams said that ”it is a matter of very very deep regret for me, and he does need support and [McGahon] does need justice”.
On RTÉ Prime Time last night, Sinn Féin TD Padraig McLochlainn said he believes McGahon was a victim of rape, and that he was failed.
“He needs the full support of the justice system,” he said, adding he is glad gardaí are currently investigating the situation.
He said that former Sinn Féin TD for Louth Arthur Morgan wrote to McGahon in 2009 about his allegations, advising him to go the gardaí with them.
Both Morgan and the Sinn Féin councillor Pearse McGeough, whom McGahon said he approached, issued statements today
McLochlainn appealed to any person who has been a victim of an IRA abuser to come forward and contact authorities.
He refuted claims by Regina Doherty that the Sinn Féin and IRA is after investigating over 40 cases of both sexual and physical abuse by Republicans.
Speaking on Morning Ireland this morning, Mairia Cahill – who went public with her allegations on BBC Spotlight – said she is “hugely distressed at watching what Paudie was put through”.
Seriously disturbed by it. I haven’t had any sleep in a number of days.
She said she is “so so sorry” for the experiences which McGahon said he has been put through.
She thanked him and said she believes his account in its entirety. Cahill said that Sinn Féin owes McGahon an apology.
I always said when I took the decision to waive anonymity, and it was a decision that I agonised over, that it would be worth it if it helped one victim of abuse out there and Paudie indicated it helped him.
She also said she had experienced “survivor guilt”, as her alleged kangaroo court was held in 2000, two years before McGahon’s.
- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell