Sinn Fein denies mishandling abuse claim
Leading Sinn Fein member Padraic Wilson has moved to detail how he dealt with a case of sexual abuse after it was reported to senior party members.
The Sunday Tribune newspaper reported how a woman said she was raped at the age of 16 by a Belfast IRA man.
The woman, Ms Cahill, is the grandniece of veteran republican Joe Cahill.
She claims Gerry Adams knew of her accusations and said Sinn Fein members Seamus Finucane and Mr Wilson also met with her.
She has strongly criticised the republican movement’s handling of her case saying that IRA members made her come face-to-face with her alleged abuser so they could “read the body language” between them.
She also believes the IRA facilitated the man’s move across the Irish border to live in Donegal.
At the time of the alleged abuse in the summer of 1997, Ms Cahill, a former national secretary for Sinn Fein’s youth wing had been working for the West Belfast Festival radio station.
She was staying with the republican and his wife while her parents were on holiday.
Her alleged attacker is understood to be a former member of the provisional IRA’s punishment squad.
Ms Cahill said at one meeting Padraic Wilson, now Sinn Fein Director of International Affairs, had been dismissive of her concerns.
Mr Wilson has denied he behaved in such a way.
Mr Wilson and Mr Finucane have released statements confirming their involvement in trying to resolve the complaint and said they urged Ms Cahill to approach social services.
“I did speak with the victim and another member of her family. At all times I emphasised that the only way that the situation could be dealt with was by bringing it directly to the attention of social services,” said Mr Wilson.
“This was not a route that the victim or her family were, at that time, prepared to take.”
Mr Finucane said Ms Cahill did not wish to involve the RUC in the investigation.
“I am sorry that she felt that I was dismissive of her complaint but this was far from the case,” he said.
“I want to make it clear that I did my best to resolve this serious matter.”
Mr Finucane and Mr Wilson are understood to have been IRA members at the time.
The allegations have added to pressure on Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams who is already facing criticism that he knew of sexual abuse allegations against his brother Liam and did not do enough to alert his party about the claims.
On Tuesday Ms Cahill released a statement through the Rape Crisis Centre which said the article in the Sunday Tribune was an “accurate and truthful account”
“Sinn Fein has stated that Gerry Adams refutes the allegations I made,” she said.
“Gerry Adams first spoke to me about my case in August 2006. I had meetings with him at which I expressed my feelings on the way I was being treated until 2006.
“I have no interest in attacking Gerry Adams, I have been fond of him at times in my life, he was sympathetic at times.
“However, I stand by my assertion that my meetings with him were pointless, because there was no resolution.
“My surname is not important. It does not define me, but it does show that there was no hierarchy of victims. There seems to be however, a hierarchy when it came to perpetrators of abuse.”