Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, during a keynote speech to party
activists in Belfast, slammed the actions of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and
the leader of Fianna Fáil for showing callous disregard for the facts
around the Maíria Cahill case and of turning the Dáil chamber into an
episode of reality TV.
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
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
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
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 Fail 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
In stark contrast Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out.
All the Sinn Féin
memebers who spoke to Mairia 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
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
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
That is what I have
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
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
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
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