The grand-niece of Joe Cahill: repeatedy raped at the age of 16 by a prominent IRA man. She says Gerry Adams failed to take action

Women from two of Ireland's best-known republican families have spoken for the first time about how they were sexually abused by republicans and of how that abuse was covered up by Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA.

A grand-niece of former IRA chief-of-staff Joe Cahill has told of how she was repeatedly raped at the age of 16 by a prominent IRA man in west Belfast.

The daughter of a now deceased IRA Belfast commander has spoken of how she was physically, mentally and sexually abused by someone who is currently a Sinn Féin elected representative.

Both women said that Gerry Adams was aware of the details of their abuse but had failed to take action. Cahill, who didn't want her first name printed, is a former Ógra Sinn Féin national secretary.

Cahill (28) revealed how the IRA had brought her face-to-face in 2000 with the man who had previously raped her, saying they wanted "to read the body language" to see who was telling the truth. "I felt physically sick," she stated. She said she was never advised to report the rapes to the police or social services.

"I wanted to go to the Rape Crisis Centre. I said I needed professional help. The IRA offered me a counsellor. I said that would be a charade because it would be an IRA-friendly counsellor."

She said 'M', her rapist, was put under IRA house arrest in Belfast after it was learned he'd also sexually abused two of her cousins. However, she was later told he 'escaped'. "I didn't accept that. I believe the IRA facilitated his move to Donegal," she said.

She described many heated meetings with the IRA and with Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams.

At one meeting with the IRA attended by Padraig Wilson, the IRA's go-between with the international decommissioning body, Cahill asked that her rapist be brought back from Donegal.

"Padraig said: 'Do you think we should be running around after you?' I started crying. I said it wasn't just about me. 'M' shouldn't have been allowed to go somewhere else he'd have access to kids."

She eventually ended a series of meetings with Adams feeling they were "pointless". According to Cahill, at the first meeting: "Gerry said he knew of the horror of abuse but he believed people could recover and continue with their lives. He said sex abuse cases were very hard to prove as it was one person's word against another.

"Gerry said that, from the information he had, the army hadn't allowed M to escape. 'Sometimes these things happen,' he said. I felt numb. I told Gerry I wanted M returned to Belfast. He said the IRA had told him they couldn't do that. I said I felt betrayed by the republican movement

The second victim told the Sunday Tribune how X, who is now a Sinn Féin elected representative, had abused her when she was a child of 10. The name of that individual is known to the Sunday Tribune but can't be printed for legal reasons.

She said X locked her in an attic and also a dog kennel for days, forced her to use a bucket rather than the toilet, beat her mercilessly, held her head under water until she lost consciousness, and sexually abused her.

The Sunday Tribune has seen hospital records of the second victim's injuries and social services reports from her childhood. She made a statement to the PSNI almost two years ago and a police file was forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service last July.

"I'm disgusted that X remains a Sinn Féin elected representative and I can't understand why X hasn't been prosecuted," she said. "Another family member informed Gerry Adams face-to-face of what X had done to me.

"Gerry promised to have X expelled from Sinn Féin immediately. I feel let down."

Both women came forward to the Sunday Tribune separately saying it was time to speak out. Cahill said: "I remain a republican and there are many good republicans. Unfortunately, a few powerful individuals put the preservation of the movement, and their own position, above the safety of children. There are plenty more Aine Tyrells and ****** Cahills out there."