Northern Ireland

Mairia Cahill 'told Gerry Adams' of IRA rape claim

Maíria Cahill
Image caption Maíria Cahill has waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Spotlight about how the IRA interrogated her and forced her to confront the man she claimed had raped her as a teenager

A woman who claimed the IRA forced her to confront her alleged rapist has told of a meeting she said she had with Gerry Adams about the allegation.

Maíria Cahill said she was raped as a teenager and was later interrogated by the IRA about her allegations.

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

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he had co-operated with the PSNI in the course of their investigation.

Ms Cahill also claimed she was subjected to a kangaroo court, while the IRA tried to find out if it was her or her alleged rapist who was telling the truth.

Ms Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme, broadcast on Tuesday night.

'Face-to-face meeting'

Image copyright Marinmorris
Image caption Martin Morris has consistently denied being an abuser

The Belfast woman is a member of one of the republican movement's best-known families.

Her great-uncle, Joe Cahill, was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a long-time associate of Mr Adams.

Ms Cahill said that in 1997, when she was 16, she was subjected to a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a man who was believed to be a member of the IRA.

Ms Cahill described how the IRA questioned her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months about the abuse allegations, before summoning her to a meeting with her alleged abuser in early 2000.

Image caption Joe Cahill was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA

"They told me that they were going to read my body language to see who was telling the truth, and that they were going to bring him into a room," she said.

"I immediately panicked, because the one thing that you don't want to do is come face to face with the guy who has abused you."

Ms Cahill told the programme that the IRA investigators told her that they did not know who to believe and afterwards told her parents about their investigation.

Ms Cahill was still politically opposed to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the forerunner to the PSNI, and said she was not ready to defy the IRA and go to the police.

Her parents convinced her to see a counsellor.

In July 2000, the Cahill family said they were suddenly told that Martin Morris had been placed under house arrest by the IRA and later fled from Belfast.

In the programme, Ms Cahill detailed the first of several meetings she had with Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations.

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

Image caption Maíria Cahill detailed several meetings she said she had with Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations

"And you know, 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'.

"And at that the meeting was over for me, there was no point.

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

Two of those Ms Cahill identified in the programme as having led the IRA internal inquiry into the allegations are well-known figures.

Padraic Wilson was once the leader of the IRA in the Maze Prison, and is now considered a supporter of the peace process.

Seamus Finucane is a brother of the solicitor Pat Finucane, who was shot dead by loyalists.

Ms Cahill later went to the police, and a case was brought against the alleged rapist and those said to have been involved in the IRA inquiry.

All charges were dropped, and the accused rapist was acquitted after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

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