Sinn Féin "unreservedly" apologises to Máiría Cahill over IRA sex abuse claims
PSNI Ombudsman discovered that the RUC had information about the alleged abuse, but did not investigate it.
Sinn Féin party leader Mary-Lou McDonald has publicly apologised to former senator Máiría Cahill following a police ombudsman report which found evidence suggesting that the man accused of allegedly abusing her was suspended from the party as it was suspected he was abusing children.
McDonald – in a public statement posted to the party's website – said she "deeply regrets" that Sinn Féin did not have mandatory reporting procedures in place.
“Abuse has scarred too many lives across Ireland. We all have a responsibility to keep children safe. I have no doubt that the three women at the heart of this report have been through an ordeal," she said.
“I want to commend their bravery, in particular, the bravery of Máiría Cahill for waiving her anonymity."
Máiría Cahill is an Irish politician and a member of a prominent republican family. In 2010, she told members of the PSNI that she had been raped by an alleged IRA member called Martin Morris from 1997 to 1998.
Two other women then came forward to claim that they were also abused by the same man.
In October 2014, Cahill waived anonymity as a complainant in a sexual abuse case to tell of her claims of being abused as a teenager by a Provisional IRA member and allegations of being subjected to an IRA internal investigation which forced her to confront her abuser.
Upon researching the three women's claims, Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found that the RUC – the police force in Northern Ireland before the PSNI was formed in 2001 – had information about the alleged abuse of Cahill, and an IRA inquiry into it, but did not investigate it.
He also rejected claims that the police's failure to investigate was motivated by a desire to protect informants within the IRA.
The Police Ombudsman went on to say the PSNI failed the three women "in a number of key areas".
Morris was acquitted of charges of rape and IRA membership in 2014 and has since repeatedly denied the abuse allegations.
Cahill described the police's failings as "scandalous".
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has since apologised for mishandling the situation, adding to the women's "hurt and distress".
“At the heart of this report are three victims abused as children, who were then failed by their police service," his statement reads.
"I apologise unequivocally for the hurt and distress caused to them and for the failures in the police investigation. The Police Service of Northern Ireland fully supports the Office of the Police Ombudsman. It is an essential part of the mechanisms by which we can be held to account."
Three PSNI officers have been disciplined as a result of the Police Ombudsman's findings.