Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said there was no cover-up by her party in relation to the alleged sexual abuse of Máiría Cahill.

Ms McDonald said there is no evidence of a cover-up because it did not happen. 

Last week, the Sinn Féin leader apologised to Ms Cahill following a report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland that found Ms Cahill was failed by a disjointed police investigation into her case.

Ms McDonald also said she had the utmost sympathy and compassion for Ms Cahill and would not disrespect her.

The Sinn Féin leader also expressed her regret that her party did not have vigorous procedures in place when Ms Cahill spoke to people in confidence. She also said her party had not kept records.

On Twitter this afternoon, Ms Cahill stated that the Sinn Féin leader's statement had demonstrated a serious lack of judgement.

In 2010, Ms Cahill told police she was sexually abused by an alleged IRA member Martin Morris and was subjected to an IRA investigation into her allegations.

Mr Morris was acquitted of charges of rape and IRA membership when his trial collapsed in 2014 and has always denied the allegations.

The PSNI investigated Ms Cahill's claims and a number of people were prosecuted, but the trials collapsed when Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found that ten years earlier the then RUC had information about the alleged abuse of Ms Cahill, and an IRA inquiry into it, but did not investigate it.

Ms McDonald said she has not seen the report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. She added that she could not be answerable for police failures and she said that is what is the report is about.

When asked about reports that Mr Morris had been suspended from Sinn Féin in 2000, Ms McDonald stated that she had been advised that there was no evidence or record of Mr Morris having been a member of Sinn Féin.

She said he was a former prisoner and someone who was very active on the ground so she said she could not discount that he may have been a member but their record-keeping is not what it is now.