Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams 'refutes' Mairia Cahill Spotlight meeting claim

Maíria Cahill
Image caption Maíria Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to the BBC's Spotlight programme

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he "totally refutes" allegations about a meeting he had with a woman who claims the IRA forced her to confront her alleged rapist.

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

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

Mr Adams said he had "met Maíria in good faith".

'Concerned'

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.

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

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

Mr Adams said on Wednesday that the meeting was held "at the behest of her cousin and my late friend Siobhan O'Hanlon, who was concerned for Maíria's welfare".

"When I learned of the allegation of abuse from Siobhan, she told me that Maíria was refusing to go to the RUC," he said in a statement.

"Siobhan and I met with Joe Cahill who was Maíria's uncle. We told Joe of the allegation and asked him to speak to Maíria about reporting this to the RUC. He did so. Maíria did not want to do this at that time.

"I have contacted my solicitor with regard to the allegations made against me in the Spotlight programme."

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

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

'Face-to-face meeting'

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.

In the programme, Ms Cahill outlined a meeting with Mr Adams where she raised her allegations.

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

"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."

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

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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