SF leader refuses to comment on brother's child sex abuse conviction
on 02/10/2013 15:28:43
As Liam Adams awaits sentencing on November 5 in Belfast for six years of rape attacks on his daughter Aine, the republican leader claimed there was a lot of disinformation about the case.
When challenged about when he was first aware of the assaults on his niece and why he did not report them in 1987, the Sinn Féin chief pointed the finger at others.
"The police were aware over 20 years ago and there is a lot of disinformation being flung about in this issue," Mr Adams said.
"But let me say this, this has been and continues to be a huge ordeal for my family - we're a very large family - especially for Aine, but for all members of my family. And I think people need to be given the space to come to terms with all of that.
"And if it was your family, you would want the same respect and space and privacy on these matters."
Gerry Adams admits that Liam told him of the abuse in 2000.
However, today he was reluctant to say why he did not inform authorities when his brother got the job in Dundalk in 2003.
In the Dáil today, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said anyone with information about child sex abuse should "of course always go to the authorities".
The Belfast Telegraph newspaper today said Adams is "unfit for office", adding that he covered up the abuse for 20 years.
During the trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged four.
The first rape she remembers took place while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.
The allegations about Liam Adams were first made public when his daughter took part in a television documentary in 2009.
A short time later, Gerry Adams revealed his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.
He was a witness in the first trial which collapsed earlier this year. He told Belfast Crown Court he confronted his brother when they met in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and that Liam Adams had denied the abuse.
He then revealed his brother later confessed while they were out walking together in the rain in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2000.
Called on to explain in more detail his knowledge of his niece's abuse today and whether he has a relationship with her, Mr Adams refused to discuss the case further.
"I'm not going to talk about any of these matters beyond what I have said. It has been a very difficult ordeal for everybody in the family," he said.
Mr Adams was asked to explain why he did not warn authorities in Co Louth in 2003 that allegations had been made about his brother, who was working with children in Dundalk at the time.
Mr Adams went on to be elected for the Dáil for the area in 2011.
"I have answered all of those questions in some detail, in a number of very extensive interviews. The trial is only over yesterday. I have said what I need to say on all of that and we just need a bit of space to come to terms with that," he said.
The Sinn Féin leader also rejected local media headlines which questioned whether he was fit for public office.
"Thankfully that isn't in the hands of the Belfast Telegraph. That's in the hands of citizens," he said.
"I'm very proud and privileged to represent the people of Louth and to represent Sinn Féin. I don't take that for granted. It's a huge honour to represent Sinn Féin. It's a huge honour to have the support of your peers.
"All of these issues were rehearsed before the election and during the election campaign. So that's where I get my mandate from - not from the Telegraph in Belfast."
When pressed for a second time about going to the police at an early opportunity, this time in 2000 after his brother confessed, Mr Adams refused to address the issue.
"Again I have answered that question in detail. You seem to be, with respect, just ignoring what I'm saying," he said.
"Bear with me, bear with me, let me finish the point I'm making. The point I'm making is that this is a traumatic ordeal for Aine, but for all of my family and we do need the space to deal with all of these matters and that's what I respectfully ask you to do."
Mr Adams was forced to answer the questions as he joined party colleagues in front of the Dáil to promote this week's referendums.