GERRY Adams allegedly led an internal republican inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse by more than 100 IRA and Sinn Fein members.
They include a well-known Sinn Fein figure from the South who allegedly abused a 13-year-old girl, the Sunday Independent has learnt.
Republican sources said the inquiry was set up as part of a "damage limitation exercise" after a deluge of rape and sexual assault complaints hit the Provisional movement in 2005.
The Sinn Fein inquiry identified any past or present members of the republican movement against whom allegations of sexual violence had ever been made. Some of the complaints were ongoing while others had been previously investigated by the IRA.
Among the horrific cases before the inquiry was that of a 12-year-old boy who said he was raped by a Belfast IRA man in a republican safe house. Accusations that a senior IRA man had groomed and abused a 12-year-old girl were also examined by the Sinn Fein inquiry, which lasted for almost a year.
Gerry Adams was allegedly one of four senior party figures heading the investigation. The Sinn Fein president has faced extensive criticism over his handling of his brother's paedophilia.
Liam Adams was this month convicted of raping and sexually abusing his daughter Aine from when she was four years old until she was nine between 1977 and 1983. He will be sentenced next month.
Gerry Adams did not report Liam's confession to him that he'd sexually abused Aine – made in 2000 – to police for nine years.
The internal investigation identified more than 100 members and ex-members against whom claims of sexual violence had been made.
"These people were from all parts and were at all levels of the republican movement," said the source. "Some were ordinary cumann members and others were senior as well as high-profile members. There were also members of the army [IRA] implicated."
A Sinn Fein spokesman last night rejected the claims "absolutely and without equivocation" that the party had carried out an internal inquiry into sexual abuse allegations. He said: "Gerry Adams did not lead any internal inquiry into claims of sexual abuse against republicans."
- Suzanne Breen