Northern Ireland

Maíria Cahill: Reaction to IRA rape cover-up claims

Maíria Cahill
Image caption Maíria Cahill made the claims in a BBC Spotlight programme on Tuesday night

Politicians in Northern Ireland have been giving their reaction after a woman claimed in a BBC programme that the IRA forced her to confront her alleged rapist.

Maíria Cahill said she was forced into silence to protect the republican movement from her claims.

The alleged rapist denied the allegations and was later acquitted in court.

Ms Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Spotlight.

Afterwards, she tweeted: "Thank you for all your comments. Other victims of IRA and Sinn Féin cover up of abuse have contacted me today. That alone makes it worth it."

Mike Nesbitt, UUP

"I have known Maíria for some years now and recognise her as an individual totally committed to doing the right thing, whatever the difficulties.

"She demonstrates an unfailing determination to put the interests of the abused ahead of her own personal safety.

"Maíria's story is quite simply horrific and once again exposes the true nature of the Provisional IRA, an organisation that claimed to protect the community, while subjecting citizens to all manner of human rights abuses, from tarring and feathering, through kneecapping and sexual abuse to abduction, torture and murder."

Sinn Féin statement

"Sinn Féin's position is that the interests of victims of sexual abuse are always paramount.

"In our opinion these are matters for investigation by the police and open court and not trial by media.

"There was a police investigation and a trial into the case. The judge acquitted all those facing charges.

"If the BBC has any information that may assist due process of these matters then that information should be referred by you to the police."

Alex Attwood, SDLP

"The abuse of children and young people is one of the most heinous wrongs perpetuated over decades on this island. Abuse in the institutions of the state, in clerical institutions and abuse by paramilitary groups are now there for all to see.

"The republican movement has many questions to answer.

"Those who were responsible for her terrible experience or who denied or sought to suppress it, need also to be held to account."

Jim Allister, TUV leader

"The PSNI also has questions to answer about the feet-dragging in investigating those aspects of Maíria Cahill's complaints which put prominent republicans on the wrong side of the law.

"Once more the dark shadow of political considerations hang over due process.

"I will be asking the justice minister what inquiries he now proposes to initiate."

A repeat broadcast of this BBC Spotlight programme will be shown on BBC Two Northern Ireland at 23:20 BST on Wednesday, 15 October.

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