Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams tells Taoiseach action not point-scoring needed for victims

25 October, 2014 - by Gerry Adams TD


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 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 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 deliberate practice. 

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 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."

Change Cannot Be Stopped

The story of change is only beginning.

Sinn Féin will not allow Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to waste the potential, the possibilities and the aspirations of our people.

A government led by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil together does not represent the change that people voted for in February. In fact, it is an attempt to deny change, to protect the status quo and to continue with the same broken politics that has so badly failed workers and families

Sinn Féin will defend the change that the people voted for. We will continue to stand up for workers and families.

North and south, Sinn Féin is that change for a fairer, stronger and united Ireland.

Fully Supporting our Health Service and Frontline Workers

We need to ensure that we have all available capacity within our health systems, that we have sufficient ventilators and respiratory equipment, sufficient beds including ICU beds, and that our frontline workers are protected.  We need more testing and tracing and we need to ensure that we have all available capacity within our health systems, that we have sufficient ventilators and respiratory equipment, sufficient beds including ICU beds. 

The lack of protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, carers and others is causing a lot of concern – with frontline workers taking to the internet looking for resources and the government have stated that homehelp workers don’t need PPE. 

We need to see delivery of more testing across the island to tackle COVID-19 in line with the advice of WHO and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Income Support - Protecting Workers & Families

Sinn Féin’s proposals in the south would have guaranteed 100% of income up to €525 a week for workers and the self-employed who are laid off due to this crisis.  The Irish government’s proposal comes nowhere close to that and does not go far enough. €350 is not enough for people who have lost their jobs. 

While we are supportive of the wage subsidy scheme we believe that it must be targeted and not open to abuse - employers should have to make up the rest of the 30% of the salary – under the Irish government proposal employers could put in just one cent towards their employees pay.

There are also outstanding issues including: will workers have to pay tax on this income, now or at the end of the tax year; can workers who reside in the north but pay tax in the south be able to access the PUP payment?

Protecting Workers, Families and Businesses in the North

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has introduced protections for workers, small businesses and is lobbying the British Treasury to support the self-employed. He has brought in rate relief, including a three month rate holiday for all businesses and grants to support SMEs.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has streamlined the benefit system to make it easy for those affected by COVID-19 to access benefits, including sick pay for workers.  She has also introduced support measures for the community and voluntary sector.

Affordable Housing

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael cannot be trusted to deliver on housing. Their records speak for themselves.

Sinn Féin is committed to delivering the largest housing build in the history of the State.

Sinn Féin's "Fair Rent and Protection of Renters Bill" would prohibit rent increases on existing and new tenancies for three years and end the practice of tenants being evicted from buy-to-let properties on the grounds that a property is to be sold. These are vital protections that people need now more than ever.

In the north, Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has introduced measures to support those in the public housing sector and we have called for mortgage relief for homeowners and businesses.

Banks and the Insurance industry

It is outrageous that many people with a €200,000 mortgage will pay close to €2,000 more over the lifetime of their mortgage because the banks are not only charging interest but interest on the interest.  This is how the banks are intending to profit out of this crisis and it is outrageous. We want the Central Bank and the banks called in by the government and this to be stopped. We have been in touch with the Minister, the Central Bank and the banks on this. The fact is that they already charge twice the average EU interest rates for mortgage  - they need to waive all interest during the period of the emergency and not profit on it.

The behaviour of the insurance industry also needs to be tackled – they are failing to respond properly to this crisis.

The insurance industry is trying to find ways of avoiding providing coverage to businesses who pay very high insurance premiums and have been forced to close as a result of the crisis.  They need to be reined in by the Central Bank and taken to task over this behaviour. Nothing less than this is approach is required.