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Friday 22 September 2017

Accused rounds on media as family stands divided

ALL but unnoticed, Liam Adams slipped into the Bridewell garda station to formally hand himself over to the authorities by appointment.

He was practically unrecognisable from earlier photographs and barely warranted a second glance as he walked up the steps shortly after 2.10pm yesterday, a wry smile playing on his lips.

He had grown a beard, which, along with his hair, was now almost completely white, while his complexion was extremely pale and almost ill-looking.

He had the appearance of a man much older than his 54 years and certainly looked older than his brother, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams emerged from the station several minutes later, his arm linked firmly by a garda, and they walked quickly across the road to the Four Courts. He faces 18 charges of abuse in the North against his daughter Aine Tyrell, who has waived her right to anonymity.

At Courtroom Four, President of the High Court Nicholas Kearns was waiting but before they went inside, another of Liam Adams' daughters, Clare Smith -- who is standing by her father and was present in court with her husband -- brushed off the shoulders of her father's jacket, and they laughed together at some small joke they shared.

As Det Sgt Jim Kirwin took the stand, Mr Adams leaned on a radiator and observed the court through hooded eyes. With chin in hand, he listened as Det Sgt Kirwin told the court how he had asked Mr Adams if he knew what the 18 alleged offences, from March 1977 to March 1983, were about.

"Yes, I read about it in the papers," Mr Adams answered him, adding: "I just want to say I'm not guilty of that. I will be pleading not guilty."

Called to the stand, Mr Adams adjusted his tie and his suit jacket and put on his reading glasses before taking the Bible in hand to swear the oath. His voice was low and breathy and had the same distinct Belfast twang as his brother.

He wanted a fair trial he repeatedly said but claimed he had not left Northern Ireland because of the charges he was facing. He had left because his "children were in danger because of the 'Sunday World'", he told the court.

He had been to the PSNI "voluntarily" and to Sligo garda station "voluntarily" but the way the media have treated his family was "disgraceful", he said.

"I'm letting them know," he added, with a dismissive wave of his hand towards the media bench. "I'd love to go home but not under their circumstances."

Barrister Remy Farrell, for the State, put it to him that he had declined to tell Sligo gardai how he had travelled.

"It's a free border," said Mr Adams, sounding surprised. He said he would have no problem supplying the gardai with his mobile phone, in fact gardai in Sligo already had it.

Mrs Smith took the stand to say that she, alongside his lifelong friend Sean Rooney, had agreed to post bail for her father.

Asked if she was aware of the "very serious offences" with which her father was charged, she simply replied, "Yes".

Mr Adams' solicitor James McGuill said his client "makes no bones" that he intended to contest the proceedings.

Mr Adams and his daughter hugged after leaving the court before going their separate ways -- Mr Adams into an unmarked garda squad car which drove off, lights flashing and siren blaring, destination unknown.

Irish Independent

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