Northern Ireland

First Minister Peter Robinson meets Maíria Cahill over abuse cover-up claim

Mairia Cahill with Peter Robinson Image copyright Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Image caption Maíria Cahill met the first minister at Stormont

A west Belfast woman who claims republicans were involved in a cover-up of sexual abuse has held talks with the First Minister Peter Robinson.

Maíria Cahill has said she was raped by a suspected IRA member and interrogated about it by the organisation.

Ms Cahill said she wanted the first minister to offer more support to victims of abuse.

She said she was prepared to meet Sinn Féin but wanted the meeting recorded because she "didn't trust them".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said that victims of sexual abuse were failed but he denied any suggestion of a cover-up.

After meeting Ms Cahill, Mr Robinson said: "No-one could fail to be moved by what happened to Maíria.

"It is incredibly courageous for someone in Maíria's position to step forward so publicly.

"I want to create the circumstances where no-one feels afraid to come forward and speak about the wrongs that have been committed towards them.

"Just as we have facilitated investigations into other abuses in this country so too must victims such as Maíria be given the proper support to have their crimes fully investigated."

Ms Cahill described the meeting with Mr Robinson as positive.

Ms Cahill is to meet the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, later this week. He described Sinn Féin's behaviour as "despicable".

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 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.

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.

Ms Cahill later went to the police, and a case was brought against Martin Morris.

All charges were dropped and Mr Morris was acquitted after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

More on this story

Around the BBC