Briege Meehan: Suspended from Sinn Fein amid inquiry into sex abuse allegations

A Sinn Fein councilor, Briege Meehan, has been suspended from the party after being questioned by police over allegations of child abuse.

The Newtonabbey borough councillor is no longer a member of the party and will remain suspended from the party unless she is proven innocent.

“We suspended pending the outcome of any police or Public Prosecution Service investigation so you could be suspended for years. We don’t run party disciplinary proceedings alongside criminal matters. Suspension means you are not a member of the party,” a Sinn Fein spokesperson told the Irish News newspaper.

Meanwhile, party leader Gerry Adams in considering a libel case against the Sunday Tribune newspaper after it published two reports of women who they said had been sexually abused by Sinn Fein members.

The paper alleged that Adams had been told of the cases, one of which happened 30 years ago, but he failed to act. He has strongly denied that accusation.

One of the women concerned, the grand-niece of former senior IRA figure Joe Cahill, has since distanced herself from the newspaper's allegations and has issued a statement through her lawyer denying several aspects of the report

“I feel very let down by the decision of the Sunday Tribune to publish my interview on 17th January 2009. At no time did I give permission for any details of the sexual abuse I suffered as a child to be published.

"The editor of the Sunday Tribune gave me an assurance through my solicitors that I would not be identified as someone who has made allegations to the police regarding sexual abuse.

“Due to the publication of the Sunday Tribune article I have been easily identified within my local community as being the victim of sexual abuse. I have suffered immense hurt, upset and distress as a result of the publication and I feel that I have been manipulated by the newspaper.

The victim said in her statement: "My primary concerns are for the well being of my children and immediate family and that justice against my abuser is able to take its course without any interference."

This is the second child abuse scandal to hit Sinn Fein afer it was revealed that Liam Adams, brother of Gerry Adams is being sought for abusing his daughter.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior has asked a Stormont Assembly committee to investigate whether or not Adams knew enough information about sexual abuse carried out by members of his party, to report it to the authorities.