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graph: Stephen Kilkenny/Photocall Ireland
abuse claims

Maíria Cahill: I am now homeless and in debt

The woman who alleges she was raped by a senior member of the IRA says going public has come at a great cost to her.

MAÍRIA CAHILL, THE Belfast woman who claims she was raped by a member of the IRA and then subjected to a ‘kangaroo court’ by the organisation, has said her decision to go public with her claims has left her homeless and in debt.

Cahill issued a statement last night in response to what she said were attempts to smear her “as some sort of dangerous dissident” after it was reported that she was involved with an organisation called Republican Network for Unity (RNU).

She said she was national secretary of the RNU for “a period of a few hours” in 2010 until she resigned the position although she continued to attend its meetings.

“There was nothing illegal about RNU. It was not involved in any armed action,” she insisted. “It was a long time after I left the group, that they were publicly associated with supporting one particular grouping.

“My opposition to violence has been consistent throughout my life, even, though some people might find this strange, when I was in Sinn Fein.”

Cahill said she had been “open and upfront” about her experiences with the makers of the BBC NI Spotlight programme in which she waived her right to anonymity and made her claims earlier this month.

In the programme Cahill said that in 1997, when she was 16, she was subjected to a year-long cycle of sexual abuse and rape by a man believed to be a member of the IRA.

She then claims she was repeatedly questioned by senior members of the organisation about her abuse and was summoned to a meeting with her alleged abuser.

She has implicated Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams by saying she informed him of her claims. Adams denies Cahill’s version of the conversation they had and has issued legal proceedings against the Spotlight programme.

The Louth TD has apologised to victims of abuse who were “let down” by the IRA and has insisted that Sinn Féin has not covered up abuse “at any level” describing it as “a vile slur” on “decent, upstanding republican people”.

In her statement last night, Cahill said she believed that stories about her past were being “deliberately circulated” in order to increase pressure on her and stop her raising her cliams publicly.

“I raised it very publicly, at great personal cost to myself.  I am now homeless and in debt.  Nothing about this has brought me any personal benefit. I have been attacked for doing so and have made a complaint to the Gardai.”

She said that allegations that she had an affair with a male dissident while heavily pregnant, enticed her alleged rapist and had an affair with a female victim of the IRA were all “not true.”

“All of this is designed to increase pressure on me to go away and stop publicly raising the issue of child abuse,” she said.

Read Maíria Cahill’s full statement here >

Gerry Adams: ‘Sinn Féin has not covered up abuse at any level’

Ó Caoláin: ‘If it did happen, then that is an outrage’