Roy Greenslade, the renowned Guardian media analyst, has stated that “vital information” was withheld about Mairia Cahill, who went public on the BBC Northern Ireland "Spotlight" program with her story of being raped by an IRA member and saying it was covered up by Gerry Adams among others.
Greenslade stated that Cahill’s membership of a dissident Republican group and her refusal to go along with Sinn Fein’s acceptance of the new Northern Irish police force (PSNI) was a central fact omitted by the program, which is now facing controversy.
Greenslade wrote “... the program itself is now under fire. It is claimed that the makers failed to take account of the fact that the woman, Maria (aka Maíria) Cahill, was a leading member of a dissident republican organization with an anti-Sinn Féin agenda.”
Greenslade also wrote: “I asked BBC Northern Ireland a series of questions as to why 'Spotlight' had failed to report on Cahill's membership of an anti-Sinn Féin organisation, which was surely relevant.
“None of my specific questions were answered. Instead, the BBC issued a lengthy statement saying that it stood by "a significant piece" of investigative journalism, which was "in the public interest."
Greenslade stated, “This lack of balance resulted in the Cahill story being accepted at face value across Ireland, where Adams and his party were forced on to the back foot as they tried to defend and explain the IRA's actions.”
Greenwood noted that Cahill said she spoke to Adams about the matter, “thereby implicating him in some sort of cover-up.” He noted Adams has strenuously denied the quote she attributed to him in which she claimed he told her she might secretly have enjoyed the abuse. Adams has instructed his lawyers to sue the BBC over that statement.
Cahill left Sinn Fein and joined the Republican Network for Unity(RNU), a dissident group formed specifically in opposition to Sinn Féin's support for the PSNI.
In their reply to Greenslade, the BBC said Cahill "contests the allegation that she is a dissident" and that her membership of the RNU was "extremely brief." (Cahill has stated separately that she was "national secretary of RNU for a period of a few hours in 2010").
The BBC concluded: "'Spotlight' spent a great deal of time researching and corroborating Ms Cahill's story. As we stated in the program, we carried out a series of interviews with her, in which she gave a consistent account."
Greenslade concludes “... the feeling lingers that the program was flawed by being overly one-sided. Cahill's political stance should have been explored more fully.”