DUP calls on SF minister to resign over Cahill claims


The DUP's Paula Bradley claimed that a Sinn Fein junior minister should step down because she failed to report abuse claims made by Mairia Cahill in a BBC Spotlight programme, on 4 November 2014.

Ms Bradley told the Assembly Jennifer McCann's position was now untenable because she was informed of the abuse but failed to do anything about it. To remain in post would be a conflict of interest, she added.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said the debate was about "abuse, cover up and accountability".

"I fear that there are more, terrible chapters of the story of abuse to come," he said.

Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein described the motion as "a disgrace".

He said it was blatantly political "in the most crass and self-serving way".

Mr McGuinness said Jennifer McCann "acted at all times with care and compassion" and had done nothing wrong.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt criticised "the disgraceful remarks of the Deputy First Minister".

He said he had first met Mairia Cahill six years ago when he was a victims commissioner and that her story had not changed since then.

"I believe it," he said.

Trevor Lunn of Alliance said it was clear that the republican movement had "tried to cover up these events and silence Mairia Cahill".

Paul Givan of the DUP, who chairs the Justice Committee, then called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider his position.

Mr Givan said Barra McGrory's credibility had been called into question.

He questioned the failure to publish a review by the Attorney General, John Larkin, of the decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams for allegedly withholding information on his brother, Liam, who was convicted of raping and abusing his daughter, Aine, over a six-year period in the 1970s.

Jennifer McCann said she felt her credibility "not only as junior minister but also in a personal sense, both as a woman and particularly as a mother, is under attack".

"I want to totally refute any inference in either the motion or what has been said that I did anything improper in the actions I took in relation to this case. I would not cover up or protect anyone who has been accused of rape or sexual abuse," she said.

Ms McCann said that "at no time did Mairia indicate to me that she wanted me to report this", and that she had advised Ms Cahill to seek counselling.

The DUP motion, as amended by the SDLP, was carried by 68 votes to 27.

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