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Adams rejects claim that he tried to silence rape victim

Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin president Gerry Adams yesterday offered to meet again a west Belfast woman who claims republicans were involved in a cover-up of sexual abuse.

Mr Adams was forced to repeatedly reject claims made by alleged rape victim Maíria Cahill and denied that he "popped up all the time to silence her".

She has alleged the IRA forced her to confront the man she accused of her rape and told her not to contact police.

Waiving her right to anonymity, Ms Cahill said she was interrogated by the IRA before her allegations were buried to protect the republican movement.

She also claimed that in a meeting with Mr Adams about her rape allegation, he suggested some victims enjoy being abused.

"The most disturbing thing of that conversation for me was then he said: 'Well, you know Maíria, abusers can be extremely manipulative,'" she told BBC's Spotlight programme.

"He kind of put his hand on his chin and he sat forward a wee bit, and he said: 'Sometimes they're that manipulative', that the people who have been abused actually enjoy it.

"I was absolutely horrified. And I, at that point, got very, very angry and said to him:

'Well I didn't enjoy it'.

"He apologised on behalf of the republican movement for what had happened to me."

Mr Adams, pictured, yesterday said he was "personally horrified" over the remarks being attributed to him and strongly denied making the comments.

The Louth TD, who said he has contacted his solicitor about the BBC programme, confirmed he had met Ms Cahill but said her rape allegations were never directly discussed.

"She didn't raise it and I never raised it. If I have it right we never discussed rape allegations. She was in some personal difficulty, presumably because of this rape allegation," he told RTE.

Mr Adams said he met Ms Cahill "in order to help".

"It wasn't a big, lengthy meeting. Maíria has made other allegations. She said that I popped up all the time to silence her," he said.

"Any republican who talked to Maíria from the Sinn Féin point of view all told her to go to her family, go to the social services, go to the police, report this.

"If this woman was raped, that was absolutely and totally wrong. If the IRA did deal with it in the way she said, that is totally and absolutely wrong."

"Not withstanding the clear differences between us about what conversations we had, I am happy to meet with Mairia Cahill if she so wishes and if it is of any help to her."

Mr Adams said that when he learned of her abuse claims, Ms Cahill had been refusing to contact police and he asked her great uncle, Provisional IRA founder Joe Cahill, to speak to her about reporting it to the RUC.

Ms Cahill claimed that in 1997, aged 16, she was subjected to a year-long cycle of sexual abuse by a suspected IRA member.

The man she accused, Martin Morris, has consistently denied her claims and was acquitted of all charges.

Responding to the programme yesterday, Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said: "We have to have tremendous sympathy for anybody who felt they were in any way unjustly dealt with."

The party's junior minister Jennifer McCann, who once worked with Ms Cahill and knew of the abuse claims, said she was also willing to meet her.

Meanwhile, an SDLP assembly member has called for Sinn Féin to reveal any suspected cover-ups of abuse in Derry.

Pat Ramsey was speaking after Ms Cahill tweeted that she was aware of cases in the city.

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