The anti-Gerry Adams contingent are back in full force this time over an allegation by Mairia Cahill, grand niece of legendary IRA figure Joe Cahill.
Cahill says she was abused by an IRA operative in 1997 when she was sixteen for a period of a year and there was an attempted cover-up.
She also says the IRA held a “kangaroo court” and made her and her alleged rapist appear before them.
It is important to state at the outset that the man accused of the rape was cleared in a court of law when the case was presented because Mairia decided not to testify and also that police investigated the kangaroo court charge and found no evidence.
Having said that there are clear indications since the story broke that she was abused, something now widely accepted within Sinn Fein which makes this case even more tragic.
What they take issue with is that they participated in a cover-up which they deny. Some Sinn Fein members say they urged her to get help, go to the police and tell her story
It is also worth noting that it has now become a burning party political issue. Mairia Cahill has met Fianna Fail leader and Adams opponent Michael Martin and met Northern Ireland First Minister DUP leader Peter Robinson on Monday, and will meet Irish leader Enda Kenny later this week making this a very political issue.
Mairia Cahill implicates Gerry Adams, whom she says she met for advice, and was told by him that rapists were very manipulative and that maybe she had actually enjoyed it.
Adams has a very different version. He says he agreed to talk to her when a close associate of his who happened to be a relative of Mairia Cahill asked him specifically to do so.
That close associate was Siobhan O’Hanlon, niece of Joe Cahill, herself a much beloved figure in the Republican Movement who died tragically young of cancer.
Siobhan’s sister EIlis O’Hanlon went the other direction, as a columnist for the rabidly anti-Adams Sunday Independent where she became one of Sinn Fein’s most ardent critics.
Last year, on October 13, Eilis wrote in the “Sunday Independent” about an anonymous woman, almost certainly Mairia, who made the exact kind of allegations to her in an interview that are now being made this week.
The idea of Adams suggesting that Mairia was manipulated into liking the abuse has drawn an especially strong reaction from the Sinn Fein leader who has commenced legal action against the BBC program “Spotlight” which allowed such an allegation.
Adams has been vilified for decades now in many publications. Indeed, just this week the press ombudsman found against Independent Newspapers for utterly misrepresenting his position on a story they had written.
So it takes an extreme accusation to draw a threat of legal challenge from Adams. Clearly, he feels very strongly about this one.
Adams says he recommended to Joe Cahill and Siobhan O’Hanlon that Mairia go to the RUC, the then Northern Irish police, and it seems she eventually did so but then did not testify. So what is this latest eruption about then?
Hard to know. A woman making allegations that already were dismissed by courts has now dragged Gerry Adams into the fray.
It certainly makes for good headlines and prominent enemies are gleeful, but does it make any sense?
I believe that Adams, given his own family history of his father being an abuser and his own brother Liam’s conviction for abuse, would be extremely careful dealing with any such allegation.
It utterly beggars belief that he would try and pass off such a serious allegation as something the young woman might have enjoyed against her will.
The second part of the story involves Maria saying she was brought before an IRA court. If so that was a dreadful thing to do to a traumatized young women and there is no excuse for it. But the police could find no evidence of it. Plus she never made the claim that Adams was part of that court.
She also says there are other cases involving abuse and Republicans and both Adams and Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald have urged anyone with information on that to come forward which is certainly what should be done.
So what do we have?
Yet another allegation surfaces about two cases that which drag in Adams and a sensational allegation that can never be proven is made.
There are sections of the Irish and British media who have been only too happy to pronounce Adams guilty until proven innocent on numerous occasions and this seems yet another one.
What it is really is a tragic story taking on all kinds of political overtones that put the same old agendas at play.