Republic of Ireland news

Máiría Cahill says meeting with Sinn Féin leader 'a waste of time'

Máiría Cahill outside Buswells Hotel in Dublin after her meeting with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA
Aoife Moore

MÁIRÍA Cahill says said her meeting with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald about her treatment by the party in recent years was “potentially a waste of time” for both women.

Ms Cahill, a great-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, says she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by alleged IRA member Martin Morris.

Mr Morris, who denied all wrongdoing, was acquitted of rape when the case against him collapsed.

Ms Cahill alleges that the republican movement’s response to her claims was to subject her to an IRA interrogation.

She also accused Sinn Féin of engaging in a cover-up and waging a campaign to question her integrity since she waived her right to anonymity.

A Police Ombudsman report revealed the PSNI’s view of the investigation – including that it did not expect cooperation from Sinn Féin members during the police interviews, something the party always denied.

Speaking after the meeting with Ms McDonald at Leinster House on Tuesday night, Ms Cahill said she had even lower expectations for the party than ever “if that’s humanly possible”.

“I don’t feel like I have been treated with the respect I should have been afforded as a sexual abuse victim,” she said.

“She [Ms McDonald] has asserted that she can’t admit there was an IRA investigation, so she said that she believed I was abused based on the strength of that there were three alleged victims that came forward.

“I asserted that if she believed that I was abused on the basis of other victims, she should also believe there was an IRA investigation as I was not the only person who said there was, but she didn’t have an answer for that.

“I feel I have been treated despicably by the Sinn Féin party, people who are now in prominent positions in Sinn Féin.

“Mary Lou McDonald says she hasn’t spoken to them about this which I find incredible. She didn’t seem to be across my case – and for someone in a leadership position that’s flabbergasting.

“I don’t want to be unkind to her. She retracted a statement where she said I had slurred the party.

“She said she felt sad that this happened but sad is an understatement for me. I live with this every day and I never thought this meeting would compensate me for what happened to me.

“At the very least she could have said that she believed me about what happened to me and she didn’t have the decency to do that.”

A statement from Ms McDonald said the conversation was candid and lengthy.

“I reiterated my unreserved apology and deep regret that procedures for the mandatory reporting of abuse allegations were not in place at the time of Máiría’s disclosure,” she said.

“I acknowledged the hurt and pain that Máiría has been through and I stressed to her that robust procedures for the handling of abuse allegations are now in place.”

Ms Cahill said she is in contact with her solicitor and exploring other avenues regarding her case.

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