Northern ireland’s director of Public Prosecutions, Barry McGrory, QC, has apologised to Mairia Cahill over the handling of her case.
This follows the publication of an independent review of the handling of three alleged rape cases, one of which was Mairia Cahill’s.
The review (of three linked cases, all of which saw the defendants acquitted), was carried out by Sir Keir Starmer, former director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, is expected to be critical of the prosecution service’s handling of the cases.
The judgement was welcomed by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre this afternoon, with them saying:
We hope that this will give other victims the courage to report and to stay the course of the criminal justice system so the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are appropriately punished and victims get justice.
The report was also welcomed by West Belfast SDLP MLA Alex Attwood, who said that the news today was a “full vindication” of Mairia Cahill.
“Keir Starmer states unambiguously that ‘significant failings’ made it ‘almost inevitable’ that Mairia Cahill and others would pull out of their cases,” he said.
Speaking to Cathal Mac Coille on RTE’s Morning Ireland today Cahill said that her one wish from the review is that “change” will be instigated so that victims of abuse are more able to ” break their silence” and report abuse.
“This is hugely important… I want people to be able to be free from the hell, the prisons they’re living in, and to report their abuse,” she said.
Out of all this very sorry mess, my one wish is that changes can be implemented going forward.
Cahill had not seen the report at the time of interview, but said she was hopeful that the “serious and significant issues” she had raised would be included.
“It’s very difficult for any rape victim to go through a court process, ours was just over four years so was quite traumatic for me,” said Cahill.
I want this review to help other victims coming through the process.
Cahill said that the review into the legal process of the PPS is “hugely important” for her.
It was used as a stick to beat me with over the last seven months, I mean if the Spotlight programme hadn’t happened this review wouldn’t be happening.
The not guilty verdicts in the trials were used in part by certain politicians, certain legal representatives to attack my credibility.
I hope this report will go some way towards rectifying that.
Cahill claims she was raped by a member of the IRA in 1997 and was forced to face her abuser as the paramilitary group conducted its own inquiries.
Cahill then made a complaint to the police and charges were brought but subsequently dropped after Cahill withdrew her evidence.