Sinn FÉin has accused the Sunday Tribune of manipulating a sexual abuse victim whose story we published last week. We wrote about the horrendous abuse she suffered as a 10-year-old child at the hands of someone who until last week was a Sinn Féin elected representative.
The Sunday Tribune detailed the physical, mental and sexual abuse inflicted on her. We wrote of how she was locked in a dog kennel and an attic for days.
We wrote of how her abuser forced the victim to touch that abuser sexually and threatened to kill her if she didn't. We wrote of the relentless beatings she endured.
We wish to put the record straight on the manipulation claims and also on allegations that Gerry Adams hadn't been informed about the horrors previously carried out by the elected representative.
In written correspondence to the Sunday Tribune on 1 January, the victim's brother invited us to interview the victim: "Spoke to my sister, reference her case against *. She's in agreement about being interviewed about it all... it also includes serious sexual allegations against * plus neglect and GBG (sic).
"She is not too pleased about Gerry Adams because he was personally informed about these allegations over two years ago and * is yet to be even suspended from SF or from (their) position as a councillor. I think you could tie this story in with the Áine Tyrell case because it does prove he enjoys cover-ups."
The claim that Adams knew of the abuse was repeatedly made by both the victim and her brother during a face-to-face interview which took place on 5 January in the victim's home. We were given the name of the close family relative who two years earlier had spoken to Gerry Adams about the abuse.
The Sunday Tribune has an accurate record of our entire interview with the victim and her brother. A photographer, who is not a Sunday Tribune employee but works for a large, well-respected photographic agency, was present throughout the interview. He can verify our account.
In follow-up telephone calls with both the victim and her brother several days before publication, the entire interview – word-for-word as it would appear in the newspaper – was read out to both individuals. The victim and her brother both agreed it was an accurate and honest account.
The Sunday Tribune can produce indisputable evidence that both individuals stated this in these telephone conversations. On the day before we went to press, the victim and her brother contacted the newspaper expressing concerns about printing the story.
The victim expressed fears that she would be put out of her house by the IRA as had happened her previously. When the victim had originally come forward to us she stated she was waiving her right to anonymity. This has since been verified by her brother. The victim did not want her face pixelated.
On the day of publication, through solicitors Madden and Finucane, the victim claimed she had never given permission for the interview to be published. Although her consent had been freely given, we respected her decision to withdraw consent for her identity to be revealed.
Her face was blackened out in the photograph. That the victim and her family feel they are in a vulnerable situation is obvious from the behaviour of the victim's brother. After publication on Sunday, he immediately publicly heaped praise on our report. The next day, he criticised it. Then on following days, he again publicly congratulated us on various websites.
The Sunday Tribune recognises the pressure the victim's family is under but stands by its report 100%. We are pleased that as a result of our story, Sinn Féin publicly announced on Sunday night that the victim's alleged abuser had been suspended from the party.