Ms Cahill’s Appeal

Which philosopher made the comment that what does not kill us makes us stronger, is not as important as the sagacity it embodies. It is a wisdom very much on display in the resilient human spirit of Ms Cahill, the young Belfast woman, who stepped into the breach and virtually sacrificed her anonymity to ensure her rapist did not maintain his. She has emerged from her experience very much alive and stronger and despite strong resistance to her efforts is fast blazing a trail deep into the conspiracy of silence that for so long has allowed abusers to go unidentified and unaccountable.

In taking the very public stance that she did it is hoped that she has become a source of great inspiration to those many bearers of the effects of double torture; first tortured by what happened to them and tortured for a second time by the silence they have been forced to undergo.

In her appeal to the wider republican community to dismantle the protective wall of silence that rapists and paedophiles have sheltered behind she has again stepped into the breach. Forcing the issue into the open makes it harder for any conspiratorial cabal to deal with to its own advantage and to the disadvantage of those who have been attacked by sexual predators.

Ms Cahill’s appeal, carried in a number of web outlets, is a very strong entreaty to people to do the right thing. In pointing out that ‘no one is blaming the republican movement for members of that movement who inflicted sexual abuse on others’ she is properly measured. As she states, the crux is ‘how the republican movement dealt with the issue’. What confronts the Provisional movement is not its involvement in systemic sexual abuse but its systemic cover up of sexual abuse. At the same time it cannot be denied that the systemic culture which gave rise to such cover ups was maintained from the top down by people who thought the poser of an awkward question was more of a threat than a molester.

The republicans I knew over the years and worked with struck me as despising rapists and paedophiles. But it seems that many of them were more ready to believe that one of their comrades might be an informer than to accept that he may have been a rapist. Ms Cahill’s attacker was hardly subject to the ‘South Armagh treatment’ - as a tough and often prolonged interrogation procedure was colloquially known within the Provisional movement. There was no sense of urgency to deal with the problem.

Like most other institutions, most notably the Catholic Church, the Provisional movement proved chronically incapable of properly investigating its own. This seems abundantly clear from the case of Ms Cahill and others who have recently emerged as having being attacked by abusers. The Louth TD, Arthur Morgan, alone seems to be the one party figure who despite a very shaky and inauspicious start has publicly stated that his party’s behaviour, and that of its leader, in respect of the Liam Adams case was somewhat less than glorious. Everyone else in the party, the leader included, seems to believe that both he and the party he presides over have done no wrong.

Almost certainly, Ms Cahill is right in suggesting that that there has been a lot more abuse inflicted by Provisional movement members either not properly addressed at the time or covered up since. Her call for this to be justly dealt with is one deserving of all backing.

However there has to be some concern about moving forward on the strength of ‘suspicion’ or what meanders through the ‘grapevine.’

The vagaries of suspicion for which the grapevine is fertile ground are not something that can be readily measured or easily categorised. Those of us who have had grounds to be suspicious of whoever for whatever reason over the years, only to find that our suspicions later proved as groundless as the grapevine was barren are mindful of a suspicion-based approach to anything. In today's climate members of Sinn Fein might just make an easy target. But where would it lead? A witch hunt of Sinn Fein members would be not only be wrong but also counter productive.

While there is nothing in Ms Cahill's appeal that would in itself necessarily serve as a catalyst for a witch hunt there remains a need when talking about a suspicion based approach to specify clearly what constitute grounds for suspicion. The bar must be raised very high. Too often suspicion has been indivisible from dislike.

No person who was ever abused should sit silent. Theirs is an evidence based claim, the evidence being their own experience at the hands of their attacker. They deserve justice. But justice is only secured when the case against those accused of abuse is justly made.

Ms Cahill is proving her emotional resolve and stamina by providing real leadership in the battle against systemic cover up of wide ranging sexual abuse. She has the determination to excise this malignancy from republican culture. If she is successful she will give a fresh impetus to the laughter of our children and scourge those who laughed at them.


  1. Yawn Yawn Yawn.
    Yeah the whole Republican movement is full of paedos and rapists.

    That chips getting bigger by the day Anto(or is it Ruth Dudley or Eoghan Harris or Kevin Myers? more like Jim Mc Dowell.

  2. Don't know about rapists and paedo's but it's certainly a little UK party run this many a long year by british agents.Anyone defending it has no other life to live.

  3. red- yawn all you like,im tired of people like you,its not a republican movement anymore anyway,because the sole objective of sinn fein is to normalise and secure the 6-county british state there by solidifying partition,how in the fuck is that an act of republicanism???i think you need to consult a fucking dictionary! anyone who defends anyone that gives refuge to paedophiles has got something to gain from it,you think because someone questions the man that betrayed his own niece his own movement his own people,is somehow on the same level as eoghan harris or kevin myers??? wake up for fuck sake, maybe a picket should be placed outside the homes of those who defend paedophiles???

  4. Good Man Red
    What you have put into print is exactly the mindset most of us have of a typical Sinn Fein supporter.
    “If we don’t say it don’t believe it”. You won’t believe me but there is a world outside of the Sinn Fein cocoon that you find yourself in, we out in the real world don’t believe in covering for paedophiles and child abusers regardless of whom maybe the aggressor. I would love to hear your views on the Catholic Church and the cover up that they did for people who caused these terrible deeds.

  5. RE ‘The right to humanity is not something you or I grant people which they may forfeit if they behave in some certain way no mater how obnoxious. They have that right in spite of us.’ Yes… a reality that riles me. Because of this basic human right we can only incarcerate paedophiles and abusers of children… Frankly through the decades I have gone through modes of thinking death penalty but for any taken out this way but more will rise up to replace them. I personally believe in lifetime incarceration with no assessment for release of any kind. It is wearying to read of treatments such as chemical castration, therapy groups, offenders let out on parole crap…. Abusers are recidivist - why even bother putting expensive bandaids on a gaping wound dripping with perversion? THEY HAVE FORFEITED THEIR RIGHT TO BE TRUSTED AROUND CHILDREN EVER AGAIN. The only human right they deserve is food, water and a cell. No TV, no books, no art therapy, no exercise. No freakin’ tea & sympathy number. They did what they did knowing full well it was destroying a child. There should be a desert island where we can throw human dross so they all just implode with their filth and kill off one another. Would save on maintaining them in prisons. I don’t derive any sense of pleasure at the thought of capital punishment for abuse but we kill cockroaches, flies and rats don’t we, with nary a second thought about it.

    The Big House is the only option and knowing many screws will turn a blind eye when a pedo is taken out. But still no real solution because more abusers will replace that one in society. The issue of abuse in all its facets requires addressing not just the capture of and incarceration of offenders but addressing the very fabric of society and all the infrastructures that has enabled it to continue unabated. That will be true Justice applied… Ripping it all back to the bones and seeing what facilitated abuse in myriad forms to fester and breed. The primary one is obvious - religious constructs which shaped a compromised, misogynistic society. The solution for rape and abuse of Mother Irelands children is lifetime incarceration of offenders imo. There is still resistance to facing into realities by many. Denial. Shaming those who speak out. Focusing vicariously on details of the abuse rather than viable solutions. The truth is NO child is safe anywhere at anytime in Ireland or abroad and parents and carers need to be vigilant not just for their kids but also other peoples kids. You can see abuse on kids Know the signs. That dead, flat look in the eyes of a child is often a primary indicator. Society disempowered the children from speaking out their truth by shaping a society that didn’t want to believe or see hideous realities. The children stayed silent in their living hells. Enablers should do time as well. The dream is over Ireland - you ain’t noble and sweet - you let kids be treated like lumps of meat. Ms Cahill is the voice of all children past and present who have been abused. She is smashing down disempowerment and shame and fear. An Irish woman to be proud of.

  6. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the republican movement is rife with paedophiles and rapists but it does have its share and quite frankly one is too many. They do not nor have they ever deserved the protection of the movement and anyone in the movement who has protected them should own up, resign and move on. Nobody should think that their contributions to the movement overall can ever compensate or be used as a justification for them not taking personal accountability for their being complicit in these awful chapters because of their silence, their turning a blind eye or worse their protection of the perpetrators.

    One of the last posters is correct, regardless of whether this is the a political movement, the church, a corporation or a country children need to be protected and those who abuse them need to be removed from society and those who fail to protect them or cover it up need to be removed from public life or any position of responsibility forever - there can be no second chances for those that know better.

  7. Interested,
    That is part of a statement issued by 9 of the ten hungerstrikers families, straight from the horses mouth.
    Shame it does not fit with the anti SF agendas but such is life.

    I don't believe in covering up for child abusers either and I don't think anyone wittout an anti-sinn fein agenda seriously believes that any Republican would either.

  8. Red, your last comment stated that Republicans would cover-up for child abuse?

    Would that also cover for N.Belfast S/F who didn't inform the Meehan Clann that their alleged abuser hadn't been suspended from the Party?

    Why did S/f wait until the S. Tribune 'outed' the alleged abuser until they notified the public that this elected Party representative had been actually suspended?

    Methinks a cover-up, don't U?

  9. RED
    Once again I am not let down by the way most paranoid Sinn Fein people think “nobody understands us “ what the statement the unfortunate families of the Hunger Strikers has to do with paedophiles and child abusers I have no idea, please explain. I am not and never have been anti Sinn Fein in fact I have voted for them since 1978 in local elections and would still agree with a lot of their policies, but please do not tell me that by complaining about the cover up that took place that we who complain are anti Sinn Fein. Did the 14 DUP members who voted against accepting the new Policing deal now become anti DUP ?don’t think so, please realise that people have views that they have every right to express and maybe then life will be better all round.

  10. Ardoyne Republican,
    'Had'nt been suspended from the party'
    I think the point is that the alleged WAS suspended from the party when the allegations were made.If yoou can't see the s,tribune is involved in a smear campaign then it's obvious you dont want to.

    Ewok so crude..Sinn fein stand on a Republican ticket, stand for election and see how many votes you get.

    Interested, you are quite entitled to your opinion as am I.