I’ve just come from watching The Week in Politics on RTÉ. Over a period of some twenty-five minutes, Caoimhghín O Caolain TD (Sinn Féin) was questioned by the presenter and a Fianna Fail TD and a Labour TD about the Maria Cahill case.
He made two linked points which I believe are central to the matter. He said that anyone who knew anything about the claims made by Mairia Cahill or by two women in Louth who claim similar rapes at the hands of IRA men should bring it to the authorities, so that due process of the law could occur. He also said that Mairia Cahill said one thing about her conversations with Gerry Adams while Gerry Adams said another.
In his haste to get his boot in, the Fianna Fail TD said that he would take the word of Mairia Cahill any day before the word of …was it Gerry Adams or was it any member of the Sinn Féin party. O Caolain said that statement was in itself revealing; I couldn’t agree more. The fact is that the politicians and leaders of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the DUP in the north have accepted without question every claim made by Mairia Cahill. For that matter, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have accepted her word – or so I believe – that she was raped. She may well have been. Or she may not. When she had the opportunity to bring her case to court, she turned away. If she was in fact raped then I think that turning away was a terrible mistake on her part.
There is only one way in which this whole controversy can be resolved and that is, when those who make charges against people, whether that’s Martin Morris or Gerry Adams, produce evidence and bring their cases to court. Has Enda Kenny urged Ms Cahill to do that? Micheal Martin? The leader of the south’s Labour Party? The leader of the DUP? If they haven’t, they should have. Otherwise people might think they’re happy to have the affair in the world of speculation and trial by media, in the hope that this will damage Sinn Féin and correspondingly enhance their electoral chances.
It’s a fundamental feature of media studies that any media text or message should be studied for, among other things, its source. Dependent on the source, the message offered will be given credibility or may lack credibility. It’s no secret that Ms Cahill has for some time been part of a republican group in Ireland who are vehemently opposed to Sinn Féin. Of course that doesn’t mean that what Ms Cahill alleges isn’t true. But it is something that should be factored in. If your enemy says something about you, there’s at least a chance it’s coloured by the fact that you are their enemy.
There was a final note of irony in the Week in Politics programme. The presenter, Aine Lawlor, having presided over twenty-five minutes of vehement discussion of the Mairia Cahill case, said “We had hoped to look at the matter of Irish Water this morning but we’ve run out of time”. Indeed. And last I heard, you had to cough up – how much was it? One hundred and eighty-four euro for a call-out? This has been a very good week for water charges.