GERRY Adams allegedly led an internal republican inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse by more than 100 Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein members. These include a Sinn Fein member from the Republic who allegedly abused a 13-year-old girl, the Sunday Independent has learned.
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."
However Republican sources told the Sunday Independent that an inquiry was indeed set up – part of a "damage-limitation exercise" after a deluge of rape/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, according to sources.
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 until she was nine, between 1977 and 1983. He will be sentenced at Belfast Crown Court next month.
Gerry Adams did not report to the police for nine years Liam's confession to him – in Dundalk in 2000 – that he had sexually abused Aine for nine years.
Liam Adams was allowed to be an active member of Sinn Fein for over 20 years.
Gerry Adams never took decisive action to stop his child rapist brother working with children in Belfast or Dundalk.
And the Sinn Fein president's claims that he was estranged from his brother for 15 years after 1987 – when he allegedly became aware that his sibling was a paedophile – were proven in court to be lies.
The internal investigation identified more than 100 members and ex-members against whom claims of sexual violence had been made, the sources said, adding: "These people were from all parts and were at all levels of the republican movement.
"Some were ordinary Sinn Fein cumann members and others were senior as well as high-profile members. There were also members of the army (IRA) implicated."
Republican sources said the inquiry worked under the auspices of a Sinn Fein committee. Its internal inquiry looked into allegations that a senior Sinn Fein member had sexually abused a 13-year-old girl, sources said. The child reported the abuse to the authorities and social services began an investigation.
However, "republican movement investigators" went to talk to the child before she was interviewed by social services and social services were never informed of this, sources said.
The Sinn Fein inquiry investigated two claims that had previously been reported to the IRA. It examined allegations that a Belfast IRA man had groomed a 12-year-old girl and forced her to have oral sex with him. The IRA man was later jailed for his part in a high-profile operation in the Republic.
On learning of the alleged abuse by the Provisionals, the girl's family, who were staunch republicans, informed a senior IRA figure. He then referred the complaint to the 'OC' (officer commanding) of the alleged abuser's IRA active service unit.
The OC "arrested and interrogated" the man, who confessed his guilt. The OC repeatedly asked the IRA leadership what to do next but received no instructions.
Deeply frustrated, the OC then – on his own initiative – ordered the alleged sex abuser to leave the country under threat of "execution".
The republicans involved in the case were deeply critical of what they called the IRA leadership's "lack of action on the matter".
Another case brought to the attention of the republican inquiry was that of a 12-year-old boy who said he had been raped by an IRA man staying as a guest in his family's home, which was a republican safe house.
The alleged rapist was the son of an infamous north Belfast IRA man, who is now deceased. Sources said the IRA leadership promised the victim's family the complaint would be dealt with firmly.
They said the promise was made by the IRA's then adjutant general, who is now a senior politician. The alleged abuser went on the run. He was eventually turned in by his own brother. The Provos broke his legs and ordered him out of the country.
Sources said the whole incident was "hushed up" by the IRA adjutant general and Sinn Fein politician to "protect" the alleged abuser's "family name".
After their investigation ended, the Sinn Fein inquiry briefed one of their members to deal with PR "in case detail of their investigation became public knowledge". It is understood that substantial documentation exists, showing the existence of the inquiry.
When news of the abuse cases didn't leak out, it was "swept under the carpet", republican sources claimed.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell last week told the House of Commons that "very prominent republicans" had been involved in a Sinn Fein "committee" to investigate sexual abuse cases. Sinn Fein denied his claims.
Mr Campbell asked the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers if she would care to comment on information he had received "about a fixed committee that existed within the republican movement, which dealt with almost 100 sex-abuse victims and in which some very prominent republicans were involved".
He went on to call on "those people" who served on the committee "to come forward and help those many victims deal with the nightmare they are still dealing with 13 years on".
The MP's comments have added to the growing pressure upon the Sinn Fein leadership to respond to demands for clarity on the issue of sex offenders within the republican movement and the alleged failure of senior members of the party and the IRA to report paedophile and other sex offenders to the authorities north and south of the Border.