UPDATE V: Official Statements: Gerry Adams responds to allegations in Spotlight programme

I was asked by Alan Corcoran on South East Radio this morning [Thurs 16/Oct] if we would respond with a statement on this subject (I was unaware of this information and subject at the time I went to the studio); and while I appreciate he did read out our statement we issued promptly afterwards, I just wanted to make sure the following was also on record here.

UPDATES that I am aware of, will be included in this post, in order of most recent.


25 October, 2014
Keynote Address by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams in Belfast – Adams tells Taoiseach action not point-scoring needed for victims

The allegations of Maíria Cahill have been at the centre of the media and political system North and South, in recent times. Nobody doubts that Maíria has been through great distress. I have never doubted that she suffered abuse. And like every citizen she is fully entitled to truth and justice.

Over the course of the past week Maíria Cahill has made serious allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin members. While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered I and the others she has named reject those allegations.

The allegations made by Maíria Cahill have been seized upon in the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic way by our political opponents. Their aim has little to do with helping victims of abuse, but everything to do with furthering their own narrow political agendas.

The serious and sensitive issues of abuse should be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities. Instead they have been politicised in the Dáil, the Assembly chamber and in the media.

I am very conscious that a young woman is at the centre of this controversy.

So, let me be very, very clear. Abuse is wrong. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

Let me be equally clear. Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.

This accusation is a vile slur on thousands of decent, upstanding republican people right across this island. Those Sinn Féin members to whom Maíria Cahill spoke, have said that they believed that she had been a victim of abuse, and that she had suffered trauma. They assure me that they did all that they could to support her. That is what I did also.

The Taoiseach, the Fianna Fáil Leader and some media commentators have also tried to draw comparisons between the actions of Sinn Féin representatives in this case and that of the Catholic Church in dealing with abuse allegations.

A cursory examination of the facts gives the lie to that ridiculous assertion.

The Church hierarchy and the State presided over institutional abuse for decades. It was a systemic and deliberate practice.

In stark contrast Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out. All the Sinn Féin members who spoke to Maíria Cahill acted in good faith to support her. They advised her to speak to her family, to seek counselling or to approach social services. Her uncle Joe Cahill at my request asked her to go to the RUC.

Now even Joe is shamefully depicted as a sex abuser by some of the media. This has been deeply hurtful to his wife Annie, their children and grandchildren. Whose agenda is served by this despicable rubbish?

Some sections of the media and in particular the Independent Group, have taken these allegations against Sinn Féin, added to them, and reported them as fact. They speculate with ill-concealed glee about how much damage this controversy will do to me and Sinn Féin.

While rightfully criticising the idea of ‘kangaroo courts’, they have set themselves up as judge and jury on this issue. This is not journalism in the normal sense but a campaign with a clear political agenda.

This society is still emerging from decades of conflict. That conflict caused widespread hurt and suffering, as did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful democratic societies.

There are many legacy issues arising from the conflict. Sinn Féin accepts our responsibility to help bring about the resolution of these issues. That is not our responsibility alone. The Governments and others must deal with the past also.

Victims include a wider category than those killed or injured. They include those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the state, or by armed groups including the IRA.

How the various protagonists dealt with the issue of sexual abuse is clearly one of the legacy issues which needs to be resolved as part of the necessary business of dealing with the past.

However there is an onus on us all to meet the needs of victims of abuse and the concerns of the community in the here and now. To do what we can today. To the maximum extent that this can be dealt with now, it should be dealt with.

I have already set out the circumstances in which the IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims. I have acknowledged that while IRA volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was not equipped to deal with these difficult matters.

But the clock cannot be turned back. Sinn Féin cannot change what happened in the past. But we can acknowledge failure.

That is what I have done.

Everyone, including us, has a duty to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. That is not the responsibility only of Sinn Fein.

IRA actions failed victims of abuse. As Uacharáin Shinn Féin I have acknowledged that. I am sorry for that. And I apologise for that.

This week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach disgracefully twisted and sought to misrepresent what I have said on this issue. He and the Fianna Fáil leader have shown a callous disregard for the facts as they turned the Dáil chamber into an episode of reality television. Neither the Taoiseach nor the Fianna Fáil leader has ever sought to meet with me to address the false allegations that they have levelled against me and others in Sinn Féin. Instead they have rushed into media with their vindictive claims.

Mr Kenny and Mr Martin have done the very thing they accuse Republicans of. They have set aside the judicial process and the rights of citizens before the law. They have ignored the acquittal of those they have accused.

The Taoiseach has claimed that sexual abusers were ‘moved’ – his words, not mine – to “Dublin, Donegal, Louth”.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly claimed that he has knowledge of alleged child abusers from the North but living in the South. He says that others have given him information identifying these alleged child abusers. He has raised alarm and concern on this issue.

Has the Taoiseach gone to the Gardaí with this information? Has he insisted that those who gave him this information go to the Gardaí? If not why not?

It is up to the Gardaí or the PSNI to investigate and to prosecute anyone they suspect of child abuse, irrespective of who they are, where they come from or what organisation they may belong to.

I have no knowledge of the claims that the Taoiseach is making.

I have already called on anyone who has any information whatsoever about any case of sexual abuse to come forward to the authorities North or South. They will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

I am calling on any former IRA Volunteers, who may have any information about any allegations of sexual abuse to pass this on to the appropriate authorities.

That is, the PSNI, An Garda Siochána, Social Services, the HSE or any of the advocacy groups or helplines which deal with sexual abuse cases. This could also be done through any of the statutory and voluntary organisations which offer confidential 24 hour helplines. These agencies are properly equipped to pursue these matters.

Secrecy has surrounded abuse in Ireland. It was taboo to discuss, and some victims were very fearful to disclose.

The only way to face this problem is to support victims, and to empower them to speak out.

Republicans are reflective of wider Irish society. Abusers can be found in all walks of life. Any abuser within republicanism has done grievous wrongs to their victims and sullied our cause.

But they are not in any way representative of the thousands, or tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA, and Sinn Féin.

They are not representative of the tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause.

Or of our patriot dead.

There are republican families in every parish in Ireland. Good men and women who have kept in faith in hard times. There are ten thousand citizens in the ranks of Sinn Féin today representing hundreds of thousands of republican voters the length and breadth of this island.

The politicisation of this issue by An Taoiseach and the Fiánna Fail Leader comes at a time when we present a real alternative to the conservative parties that have failed citizens since Partition. When challenged by me in the Dáil, Mr Kenny conceded that there are many decent people in Sinn Féin.

Let me tell you Taoiseach, we don’t need you to tell us that.

We know that. We also know that we are not part of any conspiracy to protect child abusers or to cover up abuse.

So the difficult issues raised by Mairia Cahill must be addressed.

But there are processes for doing this. They should be applied and respected.

Let us be clear this is not achievable by exploiting her story in a blatant effort to demonise Sinn Féin.

22 October, 2014

Gerry Adams apologises to abuse victims let down by IRA – Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has apologised to victims of abuse who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve these issues.

He said that those who wish should come forward now and report complaints to the appropriate authorities, North or South.

Mr Adams rejected allegations that Sinn Féin was involved in any cover-up of such issues and said the issue had been politicised in the Dáil chamber by Sinn Féin’s opponents.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Gerry Adams said:

“I am mindful that there are victims and families affected by abuse watching us today. Sexual abuse and abuse of any kind is wrong. The abuse of a child is a particularly heinous crime. The consequences for victims and their families are devastating. We know this having seen the human cost of abuse right across Irish society.

“I have set out the circumstances in the North when there was no democratic, civic policing service. The IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims. While IRA Volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was ill equipped to deal with such matters.

“IRA actions against sex abusers failed victims. That is a matter of profound regret for me and other republicans. I am acutely conscious that there may be victims who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve these issues.

“As Uachtarán Shinn Féin, I want to apologise to those victims.

“Those who wish should come forward now and report their complaint to the appropriate authorities – An Garda Síochána or the HSE in the south, or the PSNI or Social Services in the North. They will have Sinn Féin’s full support in doing so.

“Secrecy has surrounded abuse in Ireland. It was taboo to discuss, and some victims were very fearful to disclose. The only way to face this problem is to support victims, and to empower them to speak out. To cover up child abuse is to deny the basic humanity of the victim and to shield the perpetrator. It is an unthinkable act of cruelty.

“Sinn Féin has not engaged in a cover-up of child abuse as some of our political enemies cynically suggest. This accusation is a slur on thousands of decent people.

“Republicans are no different to any other Irish citizens. Like most other parents we do our best to protect our children, to keep them safe. Republicans have learned, like every other section of society that ongoing vigilance and believing children when they disclose is essential. Republicans, like everyone else know that reporting quickly and to the right channels is the way to seek and achieve justice.”

Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach to accept that such difficult issues need to be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities and not politicised as they have been in the Dáil chamber.

Referring to Enda Kenny’s meeting today with Maíria Cahill, the Sinn Fein Leader said that all those Sinn Féin representatives who supported Maíria believe that she has been a victim of abuse and suffered trauma.

He went on:

“However Maíria has made some grievous allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin representatives. I and all the others refute those allegations – allegations that are now embellished and reported as fact.

“Taoiseach these matters were addressed in the courts. Four people were charged and acquitted in a court of law in relation to these allegations. You have yet to meet with me to address these allegations.

“Taoiseach having met with Maíria is it not right and proper that you meet with myself and the other Sinn Féin members to hear of their experience of trying to help Maíria, to hear of their support and the advice they offered? Is that not right and proper before you rush to judgment?”

The Taoiseach, in his response agreed to Mr Adams’ request to meet with him and other Sinn Féin members to hear of their experience of trying to help Maíria Cahill.


Important contacts:


22 October, 2014
Four accused reject Máiria Cahill allegation – BreakingNews.ie

Press Statement from Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane

20 October, 2014
Adams responds to Taoiseach’s remarks – SinnFein.ie

Responding this evening to remarks by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny Gerry Adams said:

“In comments today, the Taoiseach suggested that my recent blog was ‘part of an attempt to discredit’ Maria Cahill.

“The Taoiseach is entirely wrong and his remarks are mischievous and clearly politically motivated.

“The blog was a sincere effort to deal directly with the issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans. The Taoiseach should not try to score cheap political points about these sensitive and serious issues.

“The Taoiseach also said in relation to people who have suffered abuse in the past that he understood more ‘there are more to follow’.

“Abuse of any kind is totally wrong. If anyone, including the Taoiseach has any information whatsoever about any child abuse, they should give that to the appropriate authorities North or South and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in doing this.”

20 October, 2014
Gerry Adams – How Republicans Dealt With Allegations Of Child Abuse

The recent allegations made by Maíria Cahill are of serious concern to myself and Sinn Féin. While I refute completely Maíria’s allegations against myself and Sinn Féin it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans.

Abuse respects no political boundaries. It affects all classes, creeds and social groups. Women and children in the main suffers as a result. It is now accepted that one in four citizens have experienced abuse.

Our society has been extremely bad, until relatively recently, in facing up to this matter and developing the necessary responses and supports. This has been the case in both states but in the North these failures were further exacerbated by conflict.

In conflicts civilians suffer the most, particularly women and children. This is especially the case when communities are under military occupation. During the conflict in the north many nationalist and particularly republican communities suffered grievously under British military rule. In the main since partition, these communities had never accepted unionist one party rule. They were resentful of, and oppressed in, the Orange state which rejected all attempts at reform over the decades.

After the pogroms of 1969, Internment in 1971 and Bloody Sunday in 1972 the vast majority of nationalists withdrew any consent to be governed from the Northern state, it’s institutions and agencies.

The conflict itself caused widespread hurt and suffering, but so too did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful, democratic societies. These citizens never had a policing service. Policing and the Legal process were subverted to the primary objective of defeating republicanism at all costs. The RUC was a quasi-military arm of the state which acted against nationalists and republicans as if we were the enemy.

In many cases the absence of a civic police service also disconnected alienated communities from the support of social services. These communities policed themselves. The vast majority of people were law abiding and decent. Strong and empowered and progressive communities emerged. New and innovative restorative justice systems were developed as part of this collective experience. But there was also, particularly in the first two decades of the conflict a more brutal form of rough justice.

Some journalists and political opponents of Sinn Féin continue to perpetuate a particular myth about life in nationalist areas of the North during the conflict. They portray republicans as having oppressed republican/nationalist communities through political control and vigilantism. This was never the case. The IRA could never have sustained itself without popular support and Sinn Féin would not have developed as we have unless we had the support of the people.

The reality of course is that a professional, accountable and impartial policing service was absent and unattainable in a society that was manifestly unjust. In many republican areas the community put pressure on the IRA – which sprang from and was sustained by the community – to fill this policing vacuum.

The IRA itself often viewed this role as a major distraction from its central function. It suspected that the RUC indulged criminals in order to tie down IRA resources and demoralise the nationalist community.

IRA ‘policing’ was most evident in those areas where it had strongest support. The bulk of this activity involved mediation between those in dispute, and went unreported.

However, the IRA often punished petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers. The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes.

Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.

While this may have been expedient at the time it was not appropriate. Victims were left without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision. It ultimately failed victims and the community alike. That is a matter of profound regret for me, and many other republicans.

But these actions were of their time and reflected not only a community at war but also an attitude within Ireland which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society.

For decades the institutions of both states including successive governments, the RUC, An Garda Siochana, the courts, social services, churches and others did not deal with these matters properly.

Many senior republicans, including me, had major issues with the IRA acting as a policing agency. Martin McGuinness and I are on the public record speaking out against punishment shootings since the 1980s.

This facet of IRA activity was gradually discontinued over a long period as republican activism evolved despite sizeable and understandable opposition in some communities, which were contending with a Loyalist murder campaign alongside British military aggression and ingrained disadvantage and discrimination. They had little patience for anti-social behaviour, drug pushers, death drivers or sexual abusers.

Despite the alienation from the RUC it was the accepted de facto practice that they dealt with traffic accidents, car insurance and such matters. Incidents of rape were also reported to them in some cases and no thinking person would have made a case against that. But many victims or families of victims were reluctant to bring cases of child abuse forward. This was part of the larger problem all society and particularly victims faced at that time. But where a case emerged there was the added problem for some about reporting this to the RUC. They wanted the community or the IRA to take actions.

As society became better informed as to the issue and handling of abuse, republicans began to develop victim centred approaches, ensuring that victims received the necessary supports, counselling and advice.

As Sinn Féin developed our constituency services we also developed our policies in relation to abuse.

I advocated that we direct victims to the Social Services if they did not want to go to the RUC, in the knowledge that the Social Services could go to the RUC. In other words Republicans including the IRA, could not deal with these issues. Sinn Féin would direct people to counselling services and advise victims of legacy issues but we also told everyone that we would report all cases in which children could be at risk to the Social Services or the HSE.

Following the IRA cessation in 1994 and the developing peace process legacy cases of abuse emerged. Many of these are in the public domain. Some involved republicans. My father was an abuser. Some also may have involved IRA volunteers. Those who wish to have these cases dealt with have that right.

The recent publicity surrounding the case of Maíria Cahill has brought this particular issue to the fore in public consciousness. Maíria alleges she was raped, and that the IRA conducted an investigation into this. The IRA has long since left the scene so there is no corporate way of verifying this but it must be pointed out that this allegation was subject to a police investigation, charges were brought against some republicans who strenuously denied Maíria’s allegations. They insist they tried to help her. They were all acquitted by the court.

Maíria has also accused Sinn Féin and me of engaging in a cover up. That is untrue. When I learned of the allegation that Maíria was the victim of rape I asked her grand-uncle Joe Cahill, a senior and widely respected republican, to advise her to go to the RUC. He did this but Maíria did not want to do so at that time.

When Maíria subsequently did go to the police, I co-operated with the police investigation.

Any of the other Sinn Féin representatives named by Maíria have assured me that they at all times sought to support and help her. They advised on counselling, on speaking to her own family or approaching social services or the police. The people she spoke to are decent, thoughtful citizens and compassionate people. There was absolutely no cover up by Sinn Féin at any level.

Sinn Féin has robust party guidelines and processes on the issues of child protection, allegations of sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment, which were adopted by An Ard Chomhairle in 2006 in line with changes to the law.

Sinn Féin adopted New Child Protection Guidelines in 2010, which were produced in consultation with the HSE and Social Services and the PSNI.

Maíria has said that there are other victims who are living in fear, and perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time, as a result of how republicans dealt with these issues in the past.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

Anyone who has any information whatsoever about any child abuse should come forward to the authorities North or South and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

That includes Maíria Cahill, who says that there are perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time. Whatever information she has on this she should give to the appropriate authority.

Healing and rebuilding a society still emerging from conflict demands that many difficult issues will need to be faced up to and dealt with as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.

That will require a huge amount of courage, compassion and humility across our society.

How Republicans dealt with the issue of child abuse should be one of these issues, if that is what victims want. Sinn Féin will accept our responsibility in contributing to the resolution of these wrongs. We are committed to creating a society which is no longer bedevilled or haunted by the legacy of any harm or injustices. Sexual abuse is a challenge which still challenges all sections of modern Irish society.

Looking after all victims and their families is a significant and important part of building a peaceful and just society. And victims include a wider category than those killed or injured as a result of armed actions by any of the protagonists.

It includes those who were brutalised or had their lives limited or adversely affected by growing up in a society scarred by war and the absence of agreed, stable, democratic structures and institutions.

It also includes those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the State and those badly served or mistreated by non-State actors and armed groups, including the IRA.

18 October, 2014
Gerry Adams statement – TheJournal.ie

In a statement released this evening, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams reiterated his position in relation to his conversation with Mairia Cahill.
He also reiterated his position that the Sinn Féin representatives named by Maíria “all sought to help her”, and said that Sinn Féin is willing to meet with her.
Adams said:
Mairia acknowledged that her uncle, the well respected and senior republican Joe Cahill asked her to go to the RUC. Joe made this approach at my request. She made the claim that there are other victims who are living in fear, and perpetrators at large, who are a danger to children, as a result of how republicans dealt with these issues in the past. No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.
Anyone who has any information whatsoever about any child abuse should come forward to the authorities north or south and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing
.

17 October, 2014
Gerry Adams responds to remarks by Mairia Cahill – An Phoblacht

SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams TD has reiterated his rejection of remarks that Mairia Cahill has claimed he made to her.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Gerry Adams said:

Allegations of rape and abuse must be treated sensitively and victims must be treated with respect. I speak from experience. I have helped and supported, and will continue to support victims of abuse.

“Some of them have come to me because of my own experience with this harrowing and traumatising issue. I will continue to work with victims of abuse.

“With regard to the allegations contained in the BBC Spotlight programme, it should be noted that the allegations of rape and abuse were brought to the court and dealt with.

“The allegation of an IRA investigation was subject to a police investigation and court case. Charges were brought against four people and all four were acquitted.

“However, if there was an IRA investigation – as Mairia has alleged – then that was totally wrong.

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

“I am personally horrified at the allegation that I would make the comments Mairia 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.

“When I learned of the allegation of abuse from Siobhán, she told me that Mairia was refusing to go to the RUC.

“Siobhán and I met with Joe Cahill, who was Mairia’s uncle. We told Joe of the allegation and asked him to speak to Mairia about reporting this to the RUC. He did so. Mairia did not want to do this at that time.

“When she did make a complaint to the police some time later, I co-operated with the police investigation.

“I am aware that Mairia spoke to a number of her friends and colleagues within Sinn Féin.

“I have spoken to those named by her and I am assured that at all times they sought to support and help Mairia. They advised on counselling, on speaking to her own family or approaching social services or the police.”

Speaking in response to further comments by Mairia Cahill at Leinster House, Gerry Adams said:

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

16 October, 2014
Mary Lou: I am absolutely satisified that Gerry Adams is telling the truth – TheJournal.ie

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, McDonald said she that having met with Adams today the Louth TD is “absolutely emphatic” that he did not say what he is alleged to have said to Cahill.
She insisted: “Gerry is a father himself, he’s a grandfather. As you know, and as people know, he had experience of the horror that is abuse within his own family circle so he refutes that.
“He is absolutely adamant. He is offended as a human being, never mind as a public figure, that a statement like that is being attributed to him.”
She said that she would “of course” meet with Cahill and said that Adams would be prepared to do so as well.

Sinn Féin offering to meet Maíria Cahill… – TheJournal.ie

Separately, a Sinn Féin representative in Belfast has offered to meet with Maíria to talk about the issues she raised in the BBC Spotlight programme.
“I have no problems whatsoever if Maíria wants to meet with me today or anytime in the near future,” MLA Jennifer McCann said, according to BBC Northern Ireland.
Martin McGuinness, the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, has also been asked about the issue today, saying:
We have to have tremendous sympathy for anybody who felt they were in any way unjustly dealt with.

15 October, 2014 – SinnFéin.ie

Responding to the BBC Spotlight programme broadcast last night, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD said:

“In the Spotlight programme, broadcast last night, Mairia Cahill made an accusation relating to a meeting with myself.

“I totally refute the allegations Mairia made about our conversation.

“I met Mairia in good faith, at the behest of her cousin and my late friend Siobhan O’Hanlon who was concerned for Maria’s welfare following an episode of self-harming.

“When I learned of the allegation of abuse from Siobhan, she told me that Mairia was refusing to go to the RUC.

“Siobhan and I met with Joe Cahill who was Mairia’s uncle. We told Joe of the allegation and asked him to speak to Mairia about reporting this to the RUC. He did so. Mairia did not want to do this at that time.

“I have contacted my solicitor with regard to the allegations made against me in the Spotlight programme.”

ENDS

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