Dáil TDs meeting to discuss Maíria Cahill case

Three-hour debate to include statement from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams

TDs are meeting in the Dáil this afternoon to debate allegations of sexual abuse by members of the republican movement arising from the Maíria Cahill case.

The debate,which began at 2.39pm, is expected to last for more than three hours and will involve statements from the leaders of all the major political parties including Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams and other Sinn Féin TDs have been under pressure for several weeks to explain how Ms Cahill was treated by the republican movement after she was raped by a member of the IRA when she was 16.

She has also claimed that sexual abusers in the republican movement were moved from the North to the Republic when their activities became known.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny will open proceedings, followed by the leaders of the Labour Party, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical group, all of whom can speak for half an hour.

Once the party leaders have finished, other members of the Dáil will be allowed to speak for 10 minutes each. The debate will finish by 7.30pm if not previously concluded.

Ms Cahill was in Leinster House yesterday evening where she met members of the parliamentary Labour Party and had discussions with Tánaiste Joan Burton. It was her second meeting with the Labour leader.

More than 20 TDs plus members of the Labour Party staff attended yesterday’s meeting, which lasted for more than an hour and a half.

Ms Cahill outlined the details of her case and told the Labour TDs why she felt impelled to challenge the republican leadership about their handling of it.

“Her courage is amazing,” one TD said. “She outlined in a calm manner the sinister way in which her character has been attacked by Sinn Féin and republican sympathisers.”

In today’s Dáil debate Ms Burton is expected to focus on the way Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has dealt with Ms Cahill’s case and the parallels with the way he handled the conviction of his brother Liam for child abuse.

The Tánaiste will also ask Mr Adams to account for the way Ms Cahill has been attacked by Sinn Féin since she went public with her claims.

There were heated exchanges in the Dáil two weeks ago when Mr Kenny, following a 1½-hour meeting with Ms Cahill, put her allegations directly to Mr Adams.

Last week, in a speech at a fundraising dinner in New York, Mr Adams told his American supporters that Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin were prepared to employ any “dirty trick, any slander, any lie” to stem the rising tide of support for Sinn Féin.

He insisted that the “scurrilous accusations” being made against him and the party were “untrue”.

Ms Cahill later criticised Mr Adams, saying his speech made light of her experience.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times