The British authorities covered up a case of child sex abuse by a senior figure of the IRA in order to use the damning evidence to turn him into a double agent, military intelligence sources have said.
Joe Cahill, who helped found the Provisional IRA, was pictured abusing a 14-year-old girl in a car in the 1970s, the sources said.
But instead of being prosecuted, the images were used by military spooks to turn the Republican hero – and close ally of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – into one of the British Army’s most valuable informants.
A source revealed that Cahill – who died in 2004 – was being followed by a covert unit as he drove around Belfast when the pictures were taken.
They apparently showed the paramilitary, then in his 50s, abusing a 14-year-old girl, who was later identified.
The source said: “The pictures clearly identified both Cahill and his victim. Her father would have killed him if he had found out. He was never prosecuted and instead the pictures were used to turn him. He was a prized asset.”
The allegation is the latest paedophile scandal to hit the IRA and Sinn Fein.
Last week Cahill’s grand-niece, Mairia, revealed the IRA covered up the alleged abuse she suffered as a 16-year-old at the hands of another IRA figure. Mairia was not Cahill’s alleged victim in the 70s.