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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
# abuse claims
Mary Lou: Anybody who rapes a child can't call themselves a republican
The Sinn Féin deputy leader has been making her first public comments on the latest abuse claims.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.21.35 Oireachtas TV Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil this morning Oireachtas TV

DEPUTY LEADER OF Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, has said Sinn Féin’s discomfort is not a consideration when it comes to revelations about alleged sex abuse by members of the IRA.

The sole consideration should be the victims and the consequences of their abuse, she told Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning.

Her comments followed an interview with Paudie McGahon, who has recently spoken publicly for the first time about his alleged rape by an IRA volunteer in the 90s, when he was 17 years old.

McDonald said she understands that McGahon must have been traumatised and “terrified out of his wits” by what happened to him.

What 17-year-old child could know where to do or who to turn to?

Speaking later in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions, McDonald said: “Anybody who rapes a child forfeits the right to describes themselves as a republican.”

She insisted that party leader Gerry Adams has brought information about abuse in the republican movement to gardaí as have other elected representatives and said this is the “correct thing to do”.

McDonald said that her party would not carry out the functions and roles of the gardaí or the PSNI.

Sinn Féin came under sustained attack from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Labour minister Jan O’Sullivan at Leaders’ Questions.

Martin called for a Commission of Inquiry to be established to investigate all aspects of abuse in the republican movement.

O’Sullivan said that the idea had merit but said the immediate onus was on people with information, including those in Sinn Féin, to come forward as soon as possible.

On Newstalk, McDonald said it is a “tragedy” that the incident wasn’t reported to the gardaí at the time.

However she defended her colleague Arthur Morgan, who was told by McGahon about the rape in 2008.

The former Sinn Féin TD advised the man to go to gardaí with his allegations, McDonald explained. At this stage, his alleged abuser was back in the jurisdiction and McGahon said he was too afraid to report his abuse as his life had been threatened in the past.

McDonald described it as a “travesty” that the man had to deal with “the trauma of having been sexually abused and raped with that level of fear in the mix” as well.

McDonald added that she hoped the garda investigation would be successful so that the person alleged to have been responsible for “an appalling an evil act against that child” will face the full rigours of the law.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

Read more: Former Sinn Féin TD denies alleged rape victim was frisked at his office