Woman ‘appalled’ at Adams denial of her account of rape conversations

Cahill and Adams give different versions of conversations on alleged assaults

Belfast woman Máiria Cahill and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams have given diametrically opposed versions of conversations they had after she said she was raped by a leading republican in 1997.

Speaking to the media at Leinster House after a meeting with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Ms Cahill said she was appalled at Mr Adams’s denial of her account of the conversations they had about her abuse allegations in an interview he gave to RTÉ yesterday.

“I am appalled,” said Ms Cahill, who is a grandniece of the late IRA leader Joe Cahill. “Gerry knows the truth, he knows I know the truth. I have been forced into the position where I have had to waive my anonymity because of his previous denials on that issue and I think that is reprehensible.”

She said Mr Adams owed victims an apology for how the IRA and Sinn Féin handled this issue and he also owed Micheál Martin a public apology because he called it a “new low” when the Fianna Fáil leader raised the issue in 2012.


“His party colleague Pearse Doherty came out and said those claims were unfounded and untrue and I think at this point, Sinn Féin needs to come out and say that the IRA internally investigated sex abuse cases, that Sinn Féin members were involved in some cases in that.”

Ms Cahill said prominent senior figures in Sinn Féin including Mr Adams, who was an MP at the time, knew of her allegations. “Gerry had a duty to report that to the police and he did not do so.”

She also said there were other women and men who had been treated in the same way.

“I have met with victims in similar situations and I also have met with former senior provisional members of the IRA who confirmed that they internally investigated cases of abuse.

“I think at this point it is completely ludicrous of Sinn Féin to keep denying the issue.”

She also pointed to the fact that Sinn Féin vice-president Mary Lou McDonald had previously called on anybody within the Catholic Church who had been found to have covered up abuse to be arrested and prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law.

“I am challenging Mary Lou McDonald to come out again and call on those members within Sinn Féin currently, and I don’t think there is any doubt about this, who have been found to have covered up cases of child sexual abuse, to be arrested, prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law.”

Mr Adams said: “Notwithstanding the clear differences between us about what conversations we had, I am happy to meet with Máiria Cahill if she so wishes and if it is of any help to her.”

RTÉ interview

In his RTÉ interview, Mr Adams said if there was an IRA investigation as alleged by Ms Cahill, it was totally wrong.

“I met Máiria in good faith, at the behest of her cousin and my late friend Siobhán O’Hanlon who was concerned for Máiria ’s welfare. My sole reason to meet her was to help.

“I am personally horrified at the allegation that I would make the comments Máiria has attributed to me.

“That the BBC would broadcast that allegation, without any attempt at balance whatsoever, is reprehensible. I would never make such remarks to anyone, much less an alleged victim of abuse.”

In the Spotlight programme, Ms Cahill detailed the first of several meetings she had with Mr Adams about her abuse allegations.

“The most disturbing thing of that conversation for me was when he said: ‘Well, you know, Máiria , abusers can be extremely manipulative.’ And you know, he kind of put his hand on his chin and he sat forward a wee bit, and he said: ‘Sometimes they’re that manipulative, that the people who have been abused actually enjoy it’.

“I was absolutely horrified and I, at that point, got very, very angry and said to him: ‘Well, I didn’t enjoy it’.

“And at that the meeting was over for me, there was no point.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

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