Rough Beast: My Story and the Reality of Sinn Féin

- 10:30 am
Sat 2nd March 2024
Máiría Cahill recounts the harrowing story of her life and of what she went through at the hands of what is now Ireland’s largest and richest party. A story of unimaginable trauma and political corruption.

Máiría Cahill grew up steeped in the traditions of Irish republicanism and the shadowy world of the IRA: her great-uncle Joe was one of the main founders of the Provisional IRA and her grandfather was Gerry Adams’s mentor in the republican movement. From an early age she seemed destined for a glittering career within the increasingly successful political machine of Sinn Féin, which was then enjoying the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement. She worked in a radio station alongside leading republicans; the Sinn Féin offices were her second home. She knew Gerry Adams and other senior republicans as family friends.

But at the age of 16, she was sexually abused by a prominent Belfast IRA man. When she confided in some friends she trusted about the abuse, one of them told the IRA without Máiría’s knowledge. A year later the organisation came calling, and forced her to take part in an inept and grotesquely insensitive internal investigation. She was subjected to round after round of interrogations by senior IRA men and women, usually in a network of safe houses around Belfast. Doubt was cast on her account of what had been done to her. Her assailant was allowed to confront and denounce her. Eventually her rapist was permitted to vanish from Belfast while Sinn Féin and the IRA professed bafflement about his whereabouts.

Máiría tells her story here for the first time in full detail and with unsparing honesty. It brings to life a world of paramilitary secrecy and parallel laws, but above all it is the story of one young woman’s defiance of the power wielded by ex-gunmen inspiring fear and silence, and their influence over elected politicians.

Suitable for: 18+ only - mature themes
Headshot photo of Mairia Cahill
Máiría Cahill

Malvern St James Girls’ School

15 Avenue Road
Great Malvern
WR14 3BA

Want to attend this session?

You can book a ticket to this session, but might be able to save if you get a day ticket or weekend ticket to the festival, which may include this session.