Police, Judge And Executioner



Gerry Adams

“The recent allegations made by Maíria Cahill are of serious concern to myself and Sinn Féin. While I refute completely Maíria’s allegations against myself and Sinn Féin it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans.

….After the pogroms of 1969, Internment in 1971 and Bloody Sunday in 1972 the vast majority of nationalists withdrew any consent to be governed from the Northern state, it’s institutions and agencies.

The conflict itself caused widespread hurt and suffering, but so too did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful, democratic societies. These citizens never had a policing service. Policing and the Legal process were subverted to the primary objective of defeating republicanism at all costs. The RUC was a quasi-military arm of the state which acted against nationalists and republicans as if we were the enemy.

In many cases the absence of a civic police service also disconnected alienated communities from the support of social services. These communities policed themselves. The vast majority of people were law abiding and decent. Strong and empowered and progressive communities emerged. New and innovative restorative justice systems were developed as part of this collective experience. But there was also, particularly in the first two decades of the conflict a more brutal form of rough justice.

Some journalists and political opponents of Sinn Féin continue to perpetuate a particular myth about life in nationalist areas of the North during the conflict. They portray republicans as having oppressed republican/nationalist communities through political control and vigilantism. This was never the case. The IRA could never have sustained itself without popular support and Sinn Féin would not have developed as we have unless we had the support of the people.

The reality of course is that a professional, accountable and impartial policing service was absent and unattainable in a society that was manifestly unjust. In many republican areas the community put pressure on the IRA – which sprang from and was sustained by the community – to fill this policing vacuum.

The IRA itself often viewed this role as a major distraction from its central function. It suspected that the RUC indulged criminals in order to tie down IRA resources and demoralise the nationalist community.

IRA ‘policing’ was most evident in those areas where it had strongest support. The bulk of this activity involved mediation between those in dispute, and went unreported.

However, the IRA often punished petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers. The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes.

Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.

While this may have been expedient at the time it was not appropriate. Victims were left without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision. It ultimately failed victims and the community alike. That is a matter of profound regret for me, and many other republicans.

But these actions were of their time and reflected not only a community at war but also an attitude within Ireland which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society.

For decades the institutions of both states including successive governments, the RUC, An Garda Siochana, the courts, social services, churches and others did not deal with these matters properly.

Many senior republicans, including me, had major issues with the IRA acting as a policing agency. Martin McGuinness and I are on the public record speaking out against punishment shootings since the 1980s.

This facet of IRA activity was gradually discontinued over a long period as republican activism evolved despite sizeable and understandable opposition in some communities, which were contending with a Loyalist murder campaign alongside British military aggression and ingrained disadvantage and discrimination. They had little patience for anti-social behaviour, drug pushers, death drivers or sexual abusers.

Despite the alienation from the RUC it was the accepted de facto practice that they dealt with traffic accidents, car insurance and such matters. Incidents of rape were also reported to them in some cases and no thinking person would have made a case against that. But many victims or families of victims were reluctant to bring cases of child abuse forward. This was part of the larger problem all society and particularly victims faced at that time. But where a case emerged there was the added problem for some about reporting this to the RUC. They wanted the community or the IRA to take actions.

As society became better informed as to the issue and handling of abuse, republicans began to develop victim centred approaches, ensuring that victims received the necessary supports, counselling and advice.

As Sinn Féin developed our constituency services we also developed our policies in relation to abuse.

I advocated that we direct victims to the Social Services if they did not want to go to the RUC, in the knowledge that the Social Services could go to the RUC. In other words Republicans including the IRA, could not deal with these issues. Sinn Féin would direct people to counselling services and advise victims of legacy issues but we also told everyone that we would report all cases in which children could be at risk to the Social Services or the HSE.

Following the IRA cessation in 1994 and the developing peace process legacy cases of abuse emerged. Many of these are in the public domain. Some involved republicans. My father was an abuser. Some also may have involved IRA volunteers. Those who wish to have these cases dealt with have that right.

The recent publicity surrounding the case of Maíria Cahill has brought this particular issue to the fore in public consciousness. Maíria alleges she was raped, and that the IRA conducted an investigation into this. The IRA has long since left the scene so there is no corporate way of verifying this but it must be pointed out that this allegation was subject to a police investigation, charges were brought against some republicans who strenuously denied Maíria’s allegations. They insist they tried to help her. They were all acquitted by the court.

Maíria has also accused Sinn Féin and me of engaging in a cover up. That is untrue. When I learned of the allegation that Maíria was the victim of rape I asked her grand-uncle Joe Cahill, a senior and widely respected republican, to advise her to go to the RUC. He did this but Maíria did not want to do so at that time.

When Maíria subsequently did go to the police, I co-operated with the police investigation.

Any of the other Sinn Féin representatives named by Maíria have assured me that they at all times sought to support and help her. They advised on counselling, on speaking to her own family or approaching social services or the police. The people she spoke to are decent, thoughtful citizens and compassionate people. There was absolutely no cover up by Sinn Féin at any level.

Sinn Féin has robust party guidelines and processes on the issues of child protection, allegations of sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment, which were adopted by An Ard Chomhairle in 2006 in line with changes to the law.

Sinn Féin adopted New Child Protection Guidelines in 2010, which were produced in consultation with the HSE and Social Services and the PSNI.

Maíria has said that there are other victims who are living in fear, and perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time, as a result of how republicans dealt with these issues in the past.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

Anyone who has any information whatsoever about any child abuse should come forward to the authorities North or South and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

That includes Maíria Cahill, who says that there are perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time. Whatever information she has on this she should give to the appropriate authority.

Healing and rebuilding a society still emerging from conflict demands that many difficult issues will need to be faced up to and dealt with as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.

That will require a huge amount of courage, compassion and humility across our society.

How Republicans dealt with the issue of child abuse should be one of these issues, if that is what victims want. Sinn Féin will accept our responsibility in contributing to the resolution of these wrongs. We are committed to creating a society which is no longer bedevilled or haunted by the legacy of any harm or injustices. Sexual abuse is a challenge which still challenges all sections of modern Irish society.

Looking after all victims and their families is a significant and important part of building a peaceful and just society. And victims include a wider category than those killed or injured as a result of armed actions by any of the protagonists.

It includes those who were brutalised or had their lives limited or adversely affected by growing up in a society scarred by war and the absence of agreed, stable, democratic structures and institutions.

It also includes those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the State and those badly served or mistreated by non-State actors and armed groups, including the IRA.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams

How republicans dealt with allegations of child abuse (Gerry Adams)

(Photocall Ireland)

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55 thoughts on “Police, Judge And Executioner

  1. Karl

    Sinn Féin topped the polls, this story comes out a week later. Mairia Cahill is being used as a pawn by the establishment in this country. I hope she finds justice, despite this.

    1. Soundings

      “Topped the polls”, wha? How many seats did they win? If you’re inclined towards conspiracy theories, it would have made more sense to break this story (it’s been breaking for several years if you search for it) back in May when Sinn Fein really did do well at the polls (and actually won seats.)

      1. Karl

        From last week:

        Sinn Féin is neck-and-neck with Fine Gael in popular support for the first time, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

        1. Medium Sized C

          From last week:

          “In Roscommon/South-Leitrim Independent candidate Michael Fitzmaurice won the seat on the seventh count.”

          “Meanwhile, in Dublin South-West Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance won a surprise victory by concentrating his campaign on the issue of water charges.”

          Which would imply that last week, two independants topped the polls.
          The actual polls.

    2. Mister Mister

      Karl, some people still can’t see what’s right in front of them. Top of the polls ?

      I supposed you still believe that goon wasn’t an IRA member ?

    3. Odis

      @ Karl
      > Nasty story that damages shinners. Therefore the victim is a pawn of the establishment?
      Mind you I have to suppose that’s a lot better situation, than being teenage **** fodder, for the Provos.

    4. Testicals

      +1. First thing i thought of.
      Such a pity our brains have been so corrupted by petty people in power to think so cynically.
      Best of luck to her too all the same!

  2. Grouse

    ‘Collette! Where did I put the inflatable IRA member?’
    ‘I don’t know, Gerry. In the attic?’
    ‘I always say to put him in the attic. Do you remember deflating him?’
    ‘I’m sure I did.’
    ‘Well do you know where the pump is? We used it for the bed last week. It’s all in the garage, under the sleeping bags.’
    ‘I’ll look there, so. I need to make a statement.’

  3. ollie

    I find it strange that a woman can make allegations, refuse to cooperate with the police, and yet the irish pm can find time to meet her.

    1. Panty Christ

      Itnsuit Enda to meet ms Cahill because he has something to gain from it. Unfortunate but true.

      1. ollie

        fine gael, labour and fianna fail are s**t scared of the rise of sf, and will do anything to discredit them.

  4. Jess

    “high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers”

    Every now and then I think of voting for Sinn Fein, and then they remind me of why I don’t with sentences like this

  5. Odis

    I for one would like to thank Gerry and his mates, for bringing some form of justice to Northern Ireland. Its easy to forget that the RUC totally failed to provide any policing, for some members of the community, because of the tendency of the provos to kill the RUC, and anyone who used official police services.

    But lets not forget, these were difficult times, where it was necessary to execute a mother of ten, for showing some signs of humanity.

    1. Ultach

      Not to forget the tendency of the RUC and chums to kill random Catholics, although I wouldn’t go as far as using that to legitimise IRA violence and vigilantism.

    2. Delacaravanio

      You do realise that the RUC collaborated with loyalist death squads?

      You do accept that the RUC tortured and beat people in custody and forced them to sign false confessions?

      You do understand that routine (and lawful) RUC practice for people in custody employed the five techniques?

      You do know that the primary reason the British government sent the army to Northern Ireland was to protect Catholics as the RUC was either not interested, or incapable, of doing so?

      Because if you don’t, then your statement is just plain ignorant.

      1. Mister Mister

        Delacaravanio, whataboutery. The default go to for those jumping to the defence of Saint Gerry.

        1. Delacaravanio

          Mister Mister, I’m responding to Odis’ comment which was completely devoid of context. It’s possible to relay facts without having an agenda. Maybe pointing out that blacks in Ferguson, Missouri might not have faith in the police makes one a supporter of the Nation of Islam or the Black Panthers in your world, but it doesn’t in mine.

          And just for the record, I have not, nor will I ever, vote for or support Sinn Fein.

      2. Odis

        @ Delacaravanio

        I know it was hell. Thank god you had Ger and his m80’s to sort it all out for you.

  6. chicken

    “However, the IRA often punished petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers. The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes.”
    How? by kneecapping them ? was there a legal way of doing this? court system?
    Also seems that their kind of policing was against their own activities to me

  7. L Snart

    The Daily Mail (not the most impartial of sources) have outed Ms Cahill’s uncle, Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provos as a tout and as an abuser as well.

    The tout rumour is not new, it could all be attempts to kick SF & the RA while their down. If proof came out of either or both allegation it would be a some shitstorm

    1. Amadan

      Well in that case, it vindicates everything Adams is saying! It also shows that the Third Secret of Fatima was a psy-ops stunt by the secret controllers of the Illuminati in The Lighhouse Family.

  8. MintyFresh

    “Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers”??? WTF? Vigilante thugs, you WERE the enemy. Delusional. Jeebus help us all if they ever do take a majority.

  9. Lilly

    So it seems SF took the same approach as the Catholic clergy towards abusers in their midst – move them on. That’s not punishment.

  10. Wayne Carr

    If Adams and McGuinness went, would people be more supportive of the Shinners? I mean, people still vote for the paedophile protecting Fianna Fáil party, don’t they? What are FF better than Sinn Féin?

    1. Sancho

      That’s the big Q. Realistically, many in SF know that the only way it can break its link with the past is for Adams and McGuinness to go. Of course, with all the progree SF has made in the last few years, the two lads do not want to go anywhere. Alas, for them, the only way SF can continuing moving forward and be taken seriously by the media and middle classes in whole (as well as get into Gov), is for Adams and McGuiness to go. This could be the scandal that pushes Gerry.

  11. Clampers Outside!

    The man lied about sh*t loads of other crap, including his own brother… why would anyone believe that blog post which is just a stream of IRA apologist nonsense.
    The guy cannot be trusted, and only a fool would be taken in by his admittedly great way with words… but that’s all it is, words.

    Keep on fighting Ms Cahill !

    As for this bit in Jerys’ post “The IRA could never have sustained itself without popular support and Sinn Féin would not have developed as we have unless we had the support of the people.”

    No Jerry, it’s called “fear”… not “popular support” and I have many family members who in the whole of the North, both in the six counties and South of the border who would attest to that, ya jumped up dick wipe.

  12. Manta Rae

    This story is an unholy mess. But haven’t we heard all this before about Sinn fein and their role in ‘policing’ the North during the Troubles? It was a horrible time for all concerned but Sinn Fein have emerged as the main political party across all of Ireland. Their opposition to water charges will surley bring them seats in the next Dail and they could even be in government in the South soon. Maybe this why the Indo is all over Ms Cahill like a rash. O’Brien has a financial stake in water meters and so would gladly seize upon any opportunity to stick the boot in to SF.

    1. Soundings

      Sindo came late to the story, it really developed legs after the BBC Spotlight broadcast last Tuesday available here on youtube/


      Ms Cahill then met Micheal Martin last week, she was on Vincent Browne last week for a one-to-one interview, she’s been on nearly every radio station. Sindo yesterday came late to the story, and their most recent antipathy towards the Shinners might just as well have been a humpf following the Press Ombudsman upholding a complaint by Gerry Adams.

  13. Markus

    Each instance where Sinn Fein continues to defend Gerry Adams and his ilk does more damage to the party.

    any hope of a credible politician in the party is eroded whenvthey continue to row in behind the murderers in the party.

    1. Buzz

      Most people understand on some level that one man’s murderer is another man’s freedom fighter. What disgusts them, however, is the selective way they doled out their punishments with insiders getting a free pass. It is obvious from listening to her that Mairia Cahill is speaking the truth.

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