Eileen Calder: defended Suzanne Breen

Northern Ireland's Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) has defended Sunday Tribune Northern Editor Suzanne Breen against allegations that she manipulated victims of sexual abuse.

Eileen Calder, director of the Rape Crisis Centre, said she has known Breen for over 20 years and can vouch for her "honesty, sincerity and courage as an investigative reporter".

The RCC statement continues:

"We have spoken with Ms Cahill, grand niece of Joe Cahill (who has requested that her first name does not be printed). She is an intelligent, professional woman, and she has given us her absolute assurance that it was she who contacted Suzanne Breen to bring her abuse, and the failure of the republican movement to deal with it, to public attention.

"Ms Cahill has asked us to provide her statement below, to clarify the issue:

'I thought long and hard about telling my story. It wasn't an easy decision. I was most certainly not manipulated into giving any interview. I approached the Northern Editor Suzanne Breen of my own accord. I wanted other victims to know they were not on their own, and I wanted them to know it is possible to recover. I know from the response I received from other victims that it was the right thing to do.

'During the interview, Suzanne Breen helped me feel comfortable, spent considerable time with me, and respected and supported me. She acted in a truly ethical and moral fashion. The article printed was an accurate and truthful account of what happened to me. Sinn Féin has stated that Gerry Adams refutes the allegations I made. Gerry Adams first spoke to me about my case in August 2000. I had meetings with him at which I expressed my feelings on the way I was being treated until 2006. I have no interest in attacking Gerry Adams, I have been fond of him at times, he was sympathetic at times. However, I stand by my assertion that my meetings with him were pointless, because there was no resolution.

'Unbeknownst to the IRA and Sinn Féin, I attended counselling during a good part of their investigation, which I arranged with a counsellor who I knew to be free from republican control. Thankfully that counsellor kept notes. Those notes authenticate my account. Medical records also verify parts of the story.

'Sinn Féin has said it is considering suing the Sunday Tribune. If Sinn Féin is challenging the truth of my story, let them sue me. I thank the Sunday Tribune for interviewing me in a highly sensitive way – and for the support I received. To date, since my story was printed, no one from Sinn Féin has contacted me to offer the same."

Ms ******* Cahill

Joe Hayden