It emerged over the weekend that senior members of the Irish Republican Army have handed over the names of six former IRA members suspected of various counts of sexual assault and rape, according to the Sunday Times.
The effort to bring these alleged crimes to light has been facilitated through members of the Sinn Féin political party. It was reported that a senior IRA official used former-IRA-man-turned-Sinn-Féin councilor Joe Reilly as an intermediary to pass along a letter naming the six men to gardaí (the Irish police force).
According to the Irish Times similar deliveries have been made all over the country, with an organization-wide push to name and shame men who have committed crimes of a sexual nature.
These letters come on the eve of the North-South Ministerial Council, which is due to meet on December 5. There have been growing calls for an all island inquiry into the IRA sex abuse claims as it has been claimed that the IRA moved men who committed sex crimes across the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic.
Due to the clandestine nature of the IRA on both sides of the border the Irish government has acknowledged that it will be difficult to investigate the claims fully without working with their counterparts in the Northern Assembly and the PSNI (Northern Irish police force). Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that a North-South inquiry is a solution being considered by the government.
Revelations about the rape allegations came to light in October of this year when Mairia Cahill came forward to allege that she was raped in 1997 by an IRA Belfast commander and was then subjected to a “kangaroo court” along with her claimed rapist.
A tense back and forth broke out between Sinn Fein and the other Irish political parties and former Sinn Féin supporters following the airing of the allegations. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny accused Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin, of trying to discredit Ms. Cahill to shield rapists and child sex abusers in the IRA.
Speaking to Irish radio station Newstalk on Monday, Cahill said she had handed over the names of about 30 men to the police:
“If that is the amount of names that have come to me, I know that Sinn Féin will have knowledge of many more.”
The police are expected to investigate the accused men, from both the IRA’s letters and Cahill herself, over the coming weeks.