Deafening Silence On Máiría Cahill Case

Henry McDonald writing for The Belfast Telegraph probes in whose interest a silence has descended on the Mairia Cahill story. Henry McDonald is a writer and commentator.

Máiría Cahill

Mairia Cahill has been found not just to have been a victim of the IRA's code of "omerta" - of keeping embarrassing things out of the public glare; the damning report by Kier Starmer, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service and human rights lawyer, also found serious failings in the way her court cases were handled. Without question she was let down by the State.

While Starmer's report suggested there was no covert conspiracy to undermine the two cases in relation to her allegations of rape and then being subjected to an IRA kangaroo court, the former UK Director of Public Prosecutions identified serious systematic faults that made it inevitable she and the other two victims - known only as 'AA' and 'BB' - would lose faith in the judicial process.

In tandem with the ongoing Cahill case, there appears to be a parallel code of silence that seems to have afflicted an array of human rights, women's rights, feminist and civil liberties groups on either side of the border.

Few - if any - have raised their voices to support the west Belfast woman in her struggle for justice and her courage in speaking out about not only the alleged rape, but also the IRA's attempts to cover it up. These organisations might point out that, unlike the State, the IRA is a non-State - albeit with political allies who do exercise some power in a regional parliament and hope to wield even more State power if elected to a "real" government in 2016 in the Republic.

They forget, of course, that, as far back as the early 1990s, Amnesty International, for instance, changed its policy of human rights defending to include acts of torture and killing by non-State armed groups as well as governments, both democratic and despotic, around the world.

The Cahill scandal is a clear case of a rape victim who has been abused by a non-State armed group as well as being treated disgracefully by the State.

Moreover, if Cahill had been the victim of, say, a clerical member of the Catholic Church, every feminist campaigner would have been howling to high heaven about the controversy and demanding that the institution which hid her abuser face justice.


  1. As a victim of rape and horrendous sexual abuse I must, first of all, state my heartfelt empathy for Mairia and the other two girls who suffered at the hands of an individual. I myself took my case to the crown court and secured 8 guilty verdicts on specimen charges against the individual male who raped and abused me. I took the case as a victim and was put through hell by Philip Breen as my abusers solicitor. However, I took the case, went to the PSNI CARE Team and was supported through the whole process by my family, friends and the Victim Support Staff at Laganside. But I don't know where this is all going. We, as victims, all want justice. And by the way, I did get any. But to say I was abused by the whole BELB and Youth Centre staff would be laughable. I'm not taking away the seriousness or hurt, shame and guilt that Mairia must feel but to blame a whole organization, Namely the IRA is not helping her cause. Much love though, Christie R x

  2. I've yet to read anywhere that Máiría Cahill said she was 'abused' by the whole IRA or SF nor was she blaming, as far as I'm aware, the whole organisation. She laid the blame squarely at the feet of her abuser and said that elements within the IRA put her through hell in an effort to get her to retract.

    You're comparing a Youth Center with the IRA and I'm certain that the Center didn't do all in their power to pressurise you into retracting what your rape claim in order to protect the name and reputation of that Center.

    Chris you also forget that Máiría isn't the only one to make these claims, besides the other two girls there was Aine Adams, Martin Meehans daughter & Paudie McGahan. Another one who was exposed a few years back by the Sunday World headed up the punishment squad in Derry and was protected by the IRA until they had no choice but to kick him out and it's no secret that he now lives above a shop in Muff Co.Donegal.

    Thats just the tip of the iceberg and I'm certain that other names will join them.

    It's now clear that all three victims had the so called system of justice impeding them and you must be asking why was this happening.