Northern Ireland

Justice committee inquiry into abuse allegations against republicans

Maíria Cahill Image copyright Rte
Image caption The assembly voted on Tuesday night in favour of a DUP motion demanding an inquiry into the Maíria Cahill case.

A Stormont inquiry is to be held into public confidence issues over the justice system's handling of claims of sexual abuse by republicans.

The justice committee inquiry was proposed by its chair Paul Givan.

He said he had in mind issues raised by a BBC Spotlight documentary on the case of Maíria Cahill and the UTV Insight programme on the case of Aine Adams.

The assembly voted on Tuesday night in favour of a DUP motion demanding an inquiry into the Maíria Cahill case.

Mr Givan said: "It is vital there is public confidence in the justice system, but this has been seriously undermined by recent revelations.

"Victims deserve to know that those who have carried out such horrendous crimes will be pursued. There must be maximum transparency and that is what the committee will be seeking to achieve."

Sinn Féin's Raymond McCartney suggested that the scope of the inquiry should be broadened to include sexual abuse in the wider community, such as the Kincora boy's home in east Belfast.

However the DUP's Edwin Poots argued that this could be a distraction from the work of the Hart inquiry which is expected to hear evidence from Kincora residents.

The matter was put to a vote and a majority of members backed an inquiry focussing on sexual abuse and the republican movement.

The three Sinn Féin committee members abstained.

Ms Cahill told the BBC's Spotlight programme last month that she had been raped by alleged IRA member Martin Morris in 1997, when she was 16.

She further claimed that the IRA had subjected her to an internal inquiry in 1999 that culminated in her being forced to face her alleged abuser.

She later went to the police, and a case was brought against Mr Morris, who denied the allegation.

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

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