Northern Ireland

IRA abuse allegations: Irish government to ask David Ford to 'reconsider' cross-border inquiry

David Ford
Image caption David Ford said he did not want to cut across other investigations

The Irish government is to ask the Northern Ireland justice minister to reconsider his decision not to hold a cross-border inquiry into IRA sex abuse.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said he wants David Ford to consider the creation of a "dual" process.

It would enable separate inquiries to take place at the same time.

Last week, Mr Ford ruled out any cross-border inquiry until other ongoing investigations are completed.

Speaking at a British-Irish Council summit in the Isle of Man on Friday, Mr Kenny said he had asked the Irish Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to go back to her counterpart Mr Ford, and ask him to reconsider the possibility of a cross-border probe.

'Follow through'

Mr Kenny said: "The central issue remains: did the IRA decide after kangaroo courts to move people who were guilty of sexual abuse, serious sexual abuse, into the Republic?

"I have asked Frances Fitzgerald to go again to speak to David Ford to see whether it is possible to construct a situation where we might be able to have a dual system of examination of allegations, and follow through where a compellability to attend would apply.

Image caption Enda Kenny said he had asked David Ford to consider the possibility of a 'dual' system to examine allegations of IRA sex abuse in the Republic and in Northern Ireland

"There is no point in setting up some sort of commission, some sort of inquiry, some sort of analysis if it runs into the sand three weeks later so we will follow that through."

Responding to Mr Kenny's comments, Mr Ford said the timing of a cross-border inquiry and need for legislation would have to be "fully considered in the days and weeks ahead".

'Close co-operation'

"I have had initial discussions with Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald on the need for those with information about abuse to come forward," he said.

"This will allow thorough investigations to be carried out and to protect anyone who may be at risk, while giving victims the support they need.

"We must ensure the already close co-operation between the justice agencies north and south continues."

In Northern Ireland, an independent review has been launched into three prosecution cases linked to the allegations of Máiria Cahill, the west Belfast woman who claims she was raped by an IRA member.

It is not expected to be completed until at least next spring.

Stormont's justice committee has also agreed to hold an inquiry into public confidence in the criminal justice system over the handling of alleged sexual abuse by republicans.

It is also expected to take several months.

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