MARY Meehan first came forward to tell her horrific story of child abuse to police in 2008 and following year waived her anonymity to speak to The Irish News.
The daughter of prominent republican Martin Meehan, who died suddenly in 2007, she had been subjected to around 15 month of almost daily physical and mental abuse at the hands of her stepmother.
Briege Meehan had moved into the Meehan family home in Ardoyne in 1979.
Shortly afterwards Martin Meehan, an IRA leader in the area, was imprisoned and the abuse of the three children left in her care intensified.
Mary bore the brunt of her stepmother’s temper until she was taken into care, underweight, covered in bruises and with patches of hair missing.
Records show that in February 21 1980 social services receive an anonymous call reporting that Mary had a black eye.
Some months later a school nurse reported serious bruises on Mary. She was removed finally from the home and taken to Lissue House Hospital in the November of 1980.
The former Sinn Féin councillor, who knocked Mary unconscious and forced her to sleep in a wet bed, finally pleaded guilty to a charge of cruelty and two assaults against the child in her care.
She was allowed to walk free with a suspended sentence on the basis of her age, guilty pleas and perceived low risk to the public.
She was also suspended from her Sinn Féin post while the investigation was ongoing before finally being removed from her seat on Newtownabbey council.
Speaking to the Irish News following the court case Mary said: “After Briege came to live with us I lost what was left of my childhood.”
Mary would have been entitled to a criminal injury payment if she had not lived with her abuser. However an antiquated ‘same roof’ policy led to her being refused compensation.
That was overturned yesterday by Lord Justice Treacy who said: “We can think of no reasonable foundation for a decision to maintain in being an arbitrary exclusion of this proven victim of criminal injuries from a compensation scheme which is specifically designed to compensate such victims.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story
Read more: Mary Meehan wins compensation battle over abuse at hands of stepmother Briege Meehan
The Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has identified failings in the PSNI’s response to abuse allegations made by Mairia Cahill.
In 2010 Ms Cahill, a grand-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, told officers she had been sexually abused by alleged IRA member Martin Morris – who was acquitted of rape and denies all wrongdoing – from 1997 to 1998.
In subsequent years she said she was subjected to an IRA interrogation over her allegations.
There is no evidence they considered any other approach
Police ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said four officers should be disciplined over shortcomings in the police response.
Ms Cahill said: “I am appalled at some of the information contained within the disclosure letter and I accept and commend the Ombudsman’s officer.”
Dr Maguire criticised the force’s decision not to hold a serious case review and the circumstances of the choice to split its investigation across two units: one with expertise in terrorist cases and another specialised in dealing with victims of sexual assault.
He added: “I accept that police wanted to move quickly on the sexual allegations and to use their different expertise to maximum effect.
“While I do not agree that this led to evidence being diluted, it did bring about a disjointed approach by police in their investigations and their treatment of Ms Cahill.
“There is no evidence they considered any other approach, such as creating a team with the range of skills to investigate these matters as one case.”
Ms Cahill, then aged 16, had told police she was subjected to a 12-month ordeal of sexual abuse.
She alleged republican paramilitaries conducted their own inquiry and subjected her to interrogation before forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.
Her allegations, highlighted in a BBC documentary, shone a light on how the IRA dealt with alleged sex abusers during a time when co-operation with the police in republican communities was extremely limited.
Ms Cahill said she was seeking an urgent meeting with PSNI chief constable George Hamilton about why the force did not have a serious case review and seeking assurances this will never happen again to anyone else.
She added: “Sinn Fein has as many questions to answer as the chief constable.”
“They allowed people to call me a liar.”
The attempted prosecutions of Mr Morris for alleged sex abuse and IRA membership – and four others accused of IRA membership linked to Ms Cahill’s claims of a republican cover-up – never got to trial because three women withdrew their evidence.
A review by the former DPP in England and Wales, Sir Keir Starmer, said the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service’s (PPS) handling of what were planned to be three separate trials had “let down” the three women.
The Ombudsman’s office said: “Overall, the Police Ombudsman found that the PSNI investigation had failed the victims, but he did not support the allegations that it chose not to arrest some of the individuals concerned because they were police informants and that it had been subject to political interference.”
Those failings included the PSNI’s “inconsistent” approach in its investigation of some of the people suspected of IRA membership, which in one case led to an individual not being arrested and questioned.
The Ombudsman found no evidence that anyone had been protected from prosecution or that the PSNI investigation became subject to adverse political interference.
His investigation did not find that Ms Cahill had to direct how the investigation progressed, but said the force’s lack of a strategy for researching information already in the public domain contributed to her mounting concerns.
Three of the officers recommended for action have been disciplined. The fourth had retired. Dr Maguire also made recommendations for changes to PSNI policies.
PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said: “At the heart of this report are three victims abused as children, who were then failed by their police service.
“I apologise unequivocally for the hurt and distress caused to them and for the failures in the police investigation.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland fully supports the Office of the Police Ombudsman. It is an essential part of the mechanisms by which we can be held to account.
“The report found failures by the RUC in 2000, to share vital information which linked a man to the alleged abuse of children.
“Whilst PONI has stated that they are satisfied that current police practices would not allow such information to go un-investigated today, the report noted other failures in the PSNI’s investigations.
“These standards fall very short of the high expectations that I and my officers set ourselves and that the public expect.
“I accept the report and we have since implemented all the recommendations made by PONI for changes to PSNI policies.
“There is now a better understanding of the importance and the need to work collaboratively across departments within the organisation.
“I can also assure the community that there have also been many changes to the PSNI since this initial report was made.
“One of these changes is the introduction of a dedicated Public Protection Branch in 2015, with specially trained officers with overall responsibility for protecting and safeguarding the most vulnerable members in our community and this demonstrates our commitment to building a safe, confident and peaceful North of Ireland.
With many thanks to: ITV News for the original story.
The Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland examined the PSNI’s handling of reports made to it in 2010 by Mairia Cahill
The watchdog found the force’s Criminal Investigation Department received intelligence in 2000 which linked a man to alleged harm of children.
It came to light while the watchdog examined the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) handling of reports made to it in 2010 by Mairia Cahill.
The Ombudsman said the RUC’s Special Branch received additional intelligence in 2000 through to 2001 suggesting that a man had abused children and that the IRA was investigating this.
When the RUC received this intelligence it was not disseminated and there is no evidence of any police investigation or inquiries as a result of it
Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire
Dr Michael Maguire has satisfied himself that the PSNI disclosed all relevant material to prosecutors in 2014.
He added: “However, when the RUC received this intelligence it was not disseminated and there is no evidence of any police investigation or inquiries as a result of it.
“The material was sufficiently specific that had police undertaken even cursory inquiries they would have identified potential victims of abuse.”
He added: “I am satisfied that current police practices would not allow such information to go un-investigated today.”
Alleged abuse victim Ms Cahill said she was appalled at some of the Ombudsman’s revelations.
“Someone needs to provide me with an explanation as to why intelligence was received by the RUC…and it sat from 2000 to 2010.”
With many thanks to: ITV News for the original story.
Three PSNI officers have been disciplined after failings were identified by a Police Ombudsman investigation into how allegations of sex abuse made by SDLP councillor Máiría Cahill and two other women were handled.
Ms Cahill is a current SDLP councillor for Lisburn and Castlereagh, a former Irish Labour Party Senator, and a member of a prominent republican family. She alleged to police in 2010 she had been raped by an IRA member from 1997 to 1998, and said she was later subjected to an IRA “kangaroo court” investigation.
Two other women also said they had been abused as children by Mr Morris.
In 2014, the trials of Mr Morris and of those accused of involvement in the IRA investigation collapsed when Ms Cahill and the other women withdrew their evidence, citing a loss of confidence in how the matter had been dealt with.
In 2015, a report by Keir Starmer – former chief of the Crown Prosecution Service, now a Labour MP – concluded it was “almost inevitable” that Ms Cahill and the two other alleged victims would decide to withdraw their evidence.
Following the publication of Mr Starmer’s independent review, the then director of the public prosecution service in the North, Barra McGrory, apologised to the women.
A statement from the North’s Ombudsman’s Office, on Wednesday, regarding how the PSNI handled the complaints, said it had been found that police failed those who were said to have been abused.
The Police Ombudsman investigation also found that the RUC, the PSNI’s predecessor, had information about the alleged abuse 10 years earlier but did not investigate it.
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Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has met Ms Cahill to discuss his findings.
While he concluded that the PSNI investigation had failed the alleged victims, he did not support allegations that it chose not to arrest some of the individuals concerned because they were police informants, and that the case had been subject to political interference.
Serious case review
Dr Maguire was critical of the decision not to hold a serious case review and the circumstances of the police decision to split its investigation across two units: one dealing with victims of sexual assault, the other with experience in dealing with terrorist issues.
His investigation also did not support the claim that police inaction was such that Ms Cahill had to direct how the investigation progressed, but said its lack of a strategy for researching information already in the public domain contributed to her mounting concerns.
Dr Maguire made seven recommendations for changes to PSNI policies, and that four police officers be disciplined.
Three of the officers have been disciplined. The fourth has retired.
A PSNI statement on the nature of the sanctions has been requested.
A statement from Ms Cahill’s lawyer welcomed the Ombudsman’s conclusion that Ms Cahill had been failed by police as a victim of serious crime.
PSNI chief constable Georga Hamilton apologised “unequivocally” for the hurt caused to the three victims in a statement.
“At the heart of this report are three victims abused as children, who were then failed by their police service.
“I apologise unequivocally for the hurt and distress caused to them and for the failures in the police investigation.
He said the report found “failures by the RUC in 2000, to share vital information which linked a man to the alleged abuse of children.
He said the ombudsman satisfied such information would not go uninvestigated today, it noted other failures in the investigation.
“These standards fall very short of the high expectations that I and my officers set ourselves and that the public expect.”
He said all the recommended changes to PSNI policies had been implemented.
He said there had been many changes to the PSNI since the report was made including the introduction of a public protection branch in 2015.
With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the original story.
Santiago: Prosecutor have seized documents in raids on Roman Catholic Church offices in two Chilean cities as part of an investigation into growing clergy sex abuse scandals.
The surprise police raids on Wednesday targeted the headquarters of Santiago’s Ecclesiastical Court and the diocese in Rancagua in the O’Higgins region, where 14 priests are accused of having had sexual relations with minors.
The raids took place as two investigators sent by Pope Francis met with Chilean prosecutors, including Attorney-General Jorge Abbott, to coordinate their response to scandals that have discredited the Chilean church and last month led all of its 30-plus active bishops to offer to resign over their collective guilt in failing to protect children from abusive priests.
“The commitment is to a greater collaboration between the institutions,” Abbott said, adding that church and civilian authorities were going to set up a system to provide victims with the protections needed to come forward and freely lodge complaints.
Abbott said prosecutors met some resistance in the Rancagua raid, though they were satisfied with the information seized in both operations. He said in the coming days prosecutors would ask the Vatican for any information it has related to the investigations.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a special envoy from the Vatican, told reporters that it was “very important” that Church and state work together to protect children alleged to have been abused by priests and clergymen.
“The canonical process should in no way impede the right of people to exercise their right to civil justice,” he said at a news conference in the capital Santiago.
Santiago Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello said church officials “gave the prosecutor all the requested documentation.” They were “available to cooperate with the civilian justice system in all that is required.”
Prosecutor Emiliano Arias, who led the search in Santiago, said the church raids showed that in Chile “we are all subject to common justice.”
Jaime Ortiz de Lazcano, the Archbishop of Santiago’s legal advisor, said he was in a meeting with Scicluna when he was asked to go to a court hearing about the impending seizure of documents relating to an abuse case the Church had investigated in January.
“I was very surprised when they told me ‘Father, go to the court because there’s going to be a raid,'” he told reporters.
“It’s not common that [prosecutors]) solicit information from a canonical investigation, but we are entirely willing to cooperate.”
Prosecutor Emiliano Arias told reporters outside the Santiago raid that he was investigating “individuals working for the Catholic Church, not the Catholic Church itself.”
“In Chile, everyone is subject to ordinary justice,” Arias said.
Scicluna and the other Vatican investigator, Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, earlier put together a 2300-page report that prompted Francis to realise he had misjudged the Chilean situation.
On Monday, Francis began purging Chile’s Catholic hierarchy over the avalanche of sex abuse and cover-up cases, starting with accepting the resignations of the bishop at the centre of the scandal and two others.
A Vatican statement said Francis had accepted the resignations of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt. He named a temporary leader for each diocese.
Barros has been at the centre of Chile’s growing scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 over the objections of the local faithful, the pope’s own sex abuse prevention advisers and some of Chile’s other bishops.
The critics questioned Barros’ suitability to lead since he had been a top lieutenant of Chile’s most notorious predator priest and had been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse by that priest, the Reverend Fernando Karadima. Barros denied the charge, but he twice offered to resign in the ensuing years.
In 2011, the Vatican sentenced Karadima, a powerful preacher close to Chile’s elite, to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his sex crimes.
But the Scicluna-Bertomeu report exposed a far bigger scandal that has implicated several religious orders. It also exposed evidence that the Chilean hierarchy systematically covered up and minimised abuse cases.
The findings opened a Pandora’s Box of new accusations that led Francis to become the first pope to refer to a “culture of abuse and cover-up” in the Catholic Church.
The raids in Chile were reminiscent of the police search carried out in 2010 at the headquarters of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Belgium, which prompted Pope Benedict XVI to protest, calling it a “deplorable” intrusion in the Catholic Church’s legal process.
Belgian police took away computers and hundreds of files amid rumors that church leaders were continuing to cover up abuse cases. The raid prompted a Catholic panel investigating abuse to shut down in protest, saying Belgian authorities had betrayed the trust of nearly 500 victims who made complaints to the panel.
With many thanks to: The Sydney Morning Herald for the origional story.
The man and woman are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday
Two people have been charged with brothel keeping following a police operation targeting republican paramilitary group the INLA.
Seven arrests followed 12 searches in Belfast, Lisburn, Crumlin and Newtownabbey, County Antrim, on Friday.
A 32-year-old man has been charged with brothel keeping and concealing criminal property.
A 22-year-old woman has been charged with controlling prostitution and brothel keeping.
Both people are expected to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
The charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
A 48-year-old man arrested in connection with alleged trafficking and controlling prostitution offences has BB released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.
Detectives arrested a 55-year-old man in the greater Belfast area on Saturday under terrorism legislation, as part of the same police operation.
Three other men detained on Friday under terrorism legislation remain in custody.
More than 200 Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers took part in the Paramilitary Crime Task Force operation on Friday, supported by the National Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.
with many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story.