Claire Byrne Live poll from The Amárach Research / RTÉ Panel 

The Sinn Féin party is in a strange place. It’s roaring to the top of almost every voter poll in recent times and is leaving Fianna Fáil fighting for its position as the main opposition party. At the recent Ard Fheis in Derry, one Sinn Féin TD told me that next year the annual event would have to come to Dublin to a venue that will be able to accommodate all of the delegates who want to be there.

But in the midst of all that good news for Sinn Féin, the party is struggling to emerge from a darker time, the shadows of which threaten to shatter potential electoral success. It started with the revelations of Mairia Cahill, who alleges that she was raped by a senior Republican and then forced to meet her attacker in a self-styled IRA kangaroo court, where she sat in a room with her attacker and a ‘sentence’ was arrived at by those in charge of the hearing. Gerry Adams and the rest of the elected Sinn Féin representatives say they believe the attack happened but deny any knowledge that the kangaroo court took place.

Paudie McGahon

Paudie McGahon

Last week, Louth man, Paudie McGahon said that he too had been raped by a Republican who was using Paudie’s family home as a safe house. He says he was subjected to a kangaroo court in 2002 in the very room where he was attacked. The Sinn Féin man Paudie says was in charge of the court offered to put a bullet in the rapist’s head, facilitate Paudie and another victim to get their own revenge or to expel him from the area. Paudie                                                                                           chose the last option.

Again, his credible account of this bizarre court scene has been denied by Sinn Féin. Further allegations that the party carried out an investigation in 2006 into 100 sexual and physical attacks by Republicans have been met with outraged indignation by Sinn Féin, with Pearse Doherty warning on my radio show on Saturday last (March 14th) that he would seek legal advice in relation to these latest claims, which were first made public by Fine Gael TD, Regina Doherty.

Politically, the most important aspect of all of this for Sinn Féin is how it is being seen by voters. So we asked the Amárach Research / RTÉ Panel:

“Do you approve of how the Sinn Féin leadership has handled recent allegations of child abuse by members of the Republican movement?”

The result was overwhelming – 77 per cent said No, 8 per cent said Yes, and 15 per cent said they Don’t Know. A detailed breakdown of the results is below. Food for thought indeed for the Sinn Féin leadership.

SF Poll Results

This poll was carried out on Monday, March 16th, 2015.

You can find out more about the poll at www.rte.ie/cbl/poll
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