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"I smile easily" - Mary Lou denies "smirking" at Mairia Cahill during abuse debate

Cahill also claims the Dublin TD laughed and checked her phone during speeches.

Mairia Cahill with media outside Leinster House yesterday.
Mairia Cahill with media outside Leinster House yesterday.
Image: Sam Boal

SINN FÉIN DEPUTY leader Mary Lou McDonald has denied ”smirking” at abuse victim Mairia Cahill in Leinster House yesterday.

Speaking on on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Cahill also accused McDonald of laughing as the Dáil debated sexual abuse in the Republican movement.

“When I saw Mary Lou myself with Labour Senator Mary Moran yesterday, her treatment of me, in my opinion, was an absolute disgrace and the Senator was of the exact same opinion,” said Cahill.

So while she was in the Dáil uttering what she thought about how victims rights were paramount and everything, she had a victim sitting a few feet from her in the public gallery. She sat on her phone half way through the debate, she laughed and she smirked at me outside the public chamber.

But speaking later on the same programme, McDonald said that she smiled at Cahill in the same way she would anybody she meets.

“Our paths crossed momentarily yesterday, I smiled at her,” said Deputy McDonald. “Anybody who’s ever met me in any set of circumstances knows that it’s fairly standard of me to smile, I smile easily. If that was interpreted by Mairia as a smirk then I apologise to her.”

Both McDonald and Cahill were speaking after a day in which a range of allegations were made against Sinn Féin and the republican movement in the Dáil. These included claims that sex abusers within the IRA were moved to the Republic from Northern Ireland. Gerry Adams denied any knowledge of these claims.

Political interference

Cahill was also asked this morning about her meetings with the leaders of the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party and whether or not she is being used as a “political football”.

“I think that every single party has treated me with sensitivity,” said Cahill. “People don’t see the meetings that happen behind closed doors and don’t see that one person, Micheál Martin, was brought to tears for example”.

RTÉ’s Audrey Carville put it to Cahill that the three named parties have repeatedly fought other abuse victims like Louise O’Keeffe, perhaps demonstrating that the political element to her own case may have influenced the reception it received from the parties.

Cahill said that O’Keeffe had indeed been “very brave” and “fought a long fight”, adding that she understands that O’Keeffe will be meeting the Taoiseach next week.

“I think that when people get it right, they shouldn’t be criticised for getting it right. But when they get things wrong then absolutely it should be pointed out,” she said.

Read: Mary Lou says she ‘would walk through the hot coals of hell to protect children’ >

Read: In full: Enda Kenny’s speech accusing Sinn Féin of moving sex abusers to the South >

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Rónán Duffy

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