Mairia Cahill vindicated by Police Ombudsman report

As the victim of alleged sexual abuse, Mairia Cahill has been comprehensively failed by the criminal justice system and by the republican community that should have provided her with support.

Ms Cahill told police she had been abused by republican Martin Morris from 1997 to 1998, when she was 16, and in subsequent years was subjected to an IRA investigation of her allegations.

Two other women also made police complaints saying they had been abused as children by the same man.

However, in 2014, the interlinked trials of the man charged with rape and four others facing IRA membership charges collapsed when the three women withdrew their evidence citing a loss of confidence in how the case was being handled. The five defendants were acquitted of all charges.

Mairia Cahill has been fearless in speaking out, not just against the justice system but also the republican movement, which she claims put her through an interrogation process before forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.

Having had her credibility questioned by republicans, Ms Cahill has been vindicated by a series of high profile reports.

In 2015, Keir Starmer, former Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales, published an independent review which was highly critical of the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland, listing a series of failings and describing how the three women had been 'let down.'

This week the Police Ombudsman found that the victims in this case were 'failed' by a disjointed PSNI investigation and recommended that four officers be disciplined.

Chief Constable George Hamilton has apologised for the 'hurt and distress' caused to the victims and for the failures in the police investigation.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also issued a statement of apology but this has been dismissed by Ms Cahill as 'woefully inadequate.'

What this disturbing case underlines is the importance of all the organisations involved facing up to their responsibilities and providing the victims with the answers they deserve.