Máiría Cahill: Timeline of 'IRA rape' allegations

Máiría Cahill Máiría Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Spotlight

Belfast woman Máiría Cahill has claimed she was raped by a suspected IRA man when she was a teenager, and that the IRA later helped to cover up the alleged abuse.

Five people who were prosecuted as a result of her claims were later acquitted of all charges, after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence. However, her story continues to make headlines.


According to the account she would later give to police, Máiría Cahill, then aged 16, is subjected to a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape. The man she accused of raping and abusing her is Martin Morris, an alleged member of the IRA. Mr Morris has consistently denied all the allegations against him and was later acquitted in court.


Máiría Cahill, whose great uncle Joe Cahill was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA, tells senior IRA figures that she was raped by an alleged member of their organisation. According to her account, IRA members begin to "interrogate" her about her claims, questioning her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months.


According to Máiría Cahill, she is summoned, aged 18, to a meeting by IRA figures, who tell her she must confront her alleged rapist. She claims the IRA "investigators" tell her they will read her body language to "see who was telling the truth".

Martin Morris has consistently denied being an abuser Martin Morris has consistently denied being an abuser and was acquitted of all charges against him following two separate court cases earlier this year

A few months after this confrontation, Ms Cahill meets Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, for the first of several meetings she says she held with him. She claims that during one meeting, Mr Adams told her that some abusers can be so manipulative that some victims "enjoy" the abuse - an allegation that the Sinn Féin leader denies.

January 2010

The Sunday Tribune newspaper reports Máiría Cahill's allegations that she was raped at 16 and that the IRA facilitated her alleged rapist's move across the Irish border to live in Donegal. Sinn Féin's director of international affairs Padraic Wilson and fellow party member Seamus Finucane issue public statements saying they had urged her to report the rape allegation to social services.

11 October 2012

A Northern Ireland court lifts a ban on naming five people facing charges of membership of the IRA and other offences, as a result of Máiría Cahill's allegations. The five are identified as Martin Morris, Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Agnes McCrory and Briege Wright. The BBC had challenged the reporting ban.

14 April 2014

Martin Edward Morris, from Welbeck Road, London, is acquitted of being a member of the Provisional IRA after his trial, on that single charge, collapses at Belfast Crown Court. He is found not guilty after a prosecution lawyer told the court that the Crown were "offering no evidence against the defendant".

8 May 2014

All charges against Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Agnes McCrory (known as Maura) and Briege Wright are dropped after the prosecution offered "no evidence'' against the four defendants. Máiría Cahill had refused to testify. Martin Morris, who was awaiting a second trial on separate charges, is also acquitted of 13 offences, after the prosecution confirmed it was also not "offering any evidence'' against him.

13 October 2014

BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme broadcasts its investigation, A Woman Alone with the IRA. Máiría Cahill, who has waived her right to anonymity to speak to the programme, claims she was raped by Martin Morris. The programme also broadcasts her allegations that senior IRA members made her confront her alleged rapist before forcing her into silence, to protect the republican movement from her claims.

15 October 2014

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams issues a statement saying: "I totally refute the allegations Máiría made" about the meeting he held with her in 2000. He claims he encouraged Ms Cahill to report her rape claim to police but said: "Máiría did not want to do this at that time."

20 October 2014

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson meets Máiría Cahill to discuss her allegations. Mr Robinson, who leads the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), describes her as "incredibly courageous".

Máiría Cahill with Peter Robinson Máiría Cahill met Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson at Stormont, who later said he was "moved" by her story

21 October 2014

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announces there will be an independent review of three cases linked to the alleged rape of Ms Cahill, following the issues raised in the BBC Spotlight programme.

22 October 2014

The four people who were accused of being the IRA members who helped to cover up Ms Cahill's rape claim issue a joint statement rejecting her allegations. A solicitor acting for Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Maura McCrory, says his clients have been subjected to an "unprecedented media onslaught" since the Spotlight programme was broadcast. The statement reiterates that all of the people Ms Cahill accused were acquitted after she declined to give evidence and be cross-examined in court.

Speaking separately in the Irish parliament, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams apologises to sex abuse victims who he says were "let down" by the IRA during the Troubles.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny holds a meeting with Máiría Cahill in Dublin. He describes her as "very courageous" and a "force to be reckoned with".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets Máiría Cahill Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny held a 90-minute meeting with Máiría Cahill to discuss her allegations

23 October 2014

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, says he believes Máiría Cahill when she says she was raped. He adds he regrets "that she wasn't able to go into a court and confront the person that she alleged raped her, in the same fashion that republicans are being confronted now."

25 October 2014

Gerry Adams says Máiría Cahill's rape claims are being politically exploited by "cynical, calculated and opportunistic" opponents of Sinn Féin. Writing in his blog, Mr Adams says: "I have never doubted that she suffered abuse." However, he added: "Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party."

Máiría Cahill detailed several meetings she said she had with Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations Máiría Cahill detailed several meetings she said she had with Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations

26 October 2014

Máiría Cahill says she suffered "great personal cost" as a result of publicly raising the issue of her alleged abuse and reveals she is now "homeless and in debt".

She issues a lengthy statement to counter "inaccurate" newspaper reports that she is a dissident republican, and adds: "I would not even consider myself a republican anymore." Ms Cahill confirms her membership of Sinn Féin ended in 2001, but denies that she left the party over their stance on policing.

28 October 2014

Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, is appointed to lead an independent review of three prosecution cases linked to Máiría Cahill's allegations. Sir Keir, who was head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2008-2013, previously worked as human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. The review is expected to be completed by spring 2015.

31 October 2014

The lawyer for four people alleged to have been involved in the kangaroo court said Ms Cahill wrote a letter to the IRA complaining it had not carried out a proper investigation.

Solicitor Peter Madden said the letter indicated Ms Cahill recognised she had the option of going to the police but had decided not to do so.

Ms Cahill said that her reference to the matter demonstrates her frustration at not being able to go to the police and that the letter proves that there was an IRA investigation, and that in stating "why bother putting me through the first investigation," in the letter it is clear that she was forced into the process.

4 November

Breige Wright, one of four people acquitted of involvement in the kangaroo court, issues released two letters sent to her by Máiría Cahill in 2005 and 2008.

She said her intention was to help Ms Cahill and the letters ``demonstrate Máiría accepted and valued that support``.

Ms Cahill described the release of the letters as a "grotesque" treatment of a victim of sex abuse.

She said one letter had been written within a week of her leaving a psychiatric unit. Ms Cahill claimed that viewed in context the letters corroborated her account.

4 November

Stormont debated the Máiría Cahill case, in particular the role of Sinn Féin junior minister Jennifer McCann who was told of abuse by Ms Cahill in 2005. Ms McCann denied any cover-up.

The assembly backed a motion by 68 votes to 27 calling for a full inquiry into the Cahill case and Ms McCann's role in it. The DUP called on her to resign as Ms McCann's ministry has responsibility for historical abuse issues.

12 November

The Irish parliament debated the Máiría Cahill case and heard claims that IRA abusers were moved into the Republic of Ireland. Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin said he knows of 28 victims.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused Sinn Féin of an "unholy collusion". Gerry Adams said Ms Cahill was abused but there was no kangaroo court. Fine Gael representative Regina Doherty said she would pass the names of eight victims to police.

14 November

Padraic Wilson issued a statement in relation to comments made in the Irish parliament by Michael Martin on 12 November. In the statement, Mr Wilson said he was not involved in the "investigation into the abuse of Máiría Cahill" and denied Mr Martin's claims that he was involved with investigating "allegations of rape of two brothers or anyone else for that matter in County Louth".

17 November

Solicitor Peter Madden issued a statement saying he would be asking for full disclosure of the prosecution decisions in the case against his four clients. He confirmed that he wrote to Spotlight prior to broadcast pointing out that his clients were found not guilty by a court and the BBC was not acting in the public interest by broadcasting unproven allegations.

23 November

The Sunday Times reported that Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Reilly, the party's national Child Protection Officer, has passed the details of six alleged IRA abusers to police in the Republic of Ireland.

24 November

Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that the Republic of Ireland government is considering the establishment of a cross-border inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse by members of the IRA.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford rules it out due to ongoing review by Sir Keir Stamer.

Gerry Adams tells Irish state broadcaster RTÉ he has passed a list of IRA abusers that was posted in the letterbox of his Belfast home, to police in Republic of Ireland.

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