Sunday 28 December 2014

Brother's sex abuse trial a difficult ordeal, claims Adams

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 02/10/2013 | 05:00

Liam Adams (far right), brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, arrives with family members at Belfast Crown Court, where he was convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter Aine Dahlstrom

SINN FEIN president Gerry Adams admitted that the conviction of his brother for a string of child sex abuse charges had been a "difficult and distressing ordeal" for the family.

Liam Dominic Adams, the younger brother of Louth and Meath East TD Gerry, was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter Aine Dahlstrom over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983.

She was aged between four and nine at the time.

Gerry Adams appealed for privacy following the case that tore apart the family.

The trial opened in April this year but collapsed due to legal reasons and the jury was discharged.

At that time, the Sinn Fein president was called as a prosecution witness. He told the court he confronted his brother about the allegations during a meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and 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.

He was not called as a prosecution witness for the latest trial, which re-opened before a new jury panel last month.

And yesterday Liam Adams (58), from Bernagh Drive in west Belfast, was convicted on all 10 counts in a packed Belfast Crown Court.

In a statement read out after the verdict, Ms Dahlstrom said: "I do not see this verdict as a victory nor a celebration as it has taken its toll and has caused hurt, heartache and anguish.

"I can now begin my life at 40 and lay to rest the memory of the girl who was abused."

She said: "I would like to give all my family a special thanks. Without their love, support and understanding, I would not be here today.

"I would now ask for some privacy for my family to reflect on recent trying times."

Gerry Adams added: "This has been a difficult and distressing ordeal for all my family and for my niece, Aine.

WEPT

"I would ask the media to respect our right to space and privacy. I thank the many people who have sent messages of support and solidarity."

The jury took almost four hours to reach guilty verdicts with a majority of 11 to one. Adams showed no emotion as the verdict was returned.

Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick and used a court hearing aid to follow proceedings, stood between two prison officers in the dock with his hands clasped tightly.

His daughter, who was surrounded by family members, wept and clutched her younger sister Sinead for support.

On the other side of the public gallery, Adams's second wife Bronagh and their daughter Claire, who gave evidence in his defence, also cried.

The convicted man nodded to them as he was led to the cells.

During the trial Ms Dahlstrom gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged four.

The first time she recalled being raped was while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.

In another incident, she was raped by her father at a flat on Belfast's Antrim Road, while her brother was asleep in the bed beside her.

Adams, who was a heavy drinker, also forced his daughter to perform sex acts.

The allegations were first made public when Ms Dahlstrom 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.

Within days of the sex-abuse scandal hitting the headlines, Liam Adams fled south – claiming he could not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland.

He handed himself in to gardai in Co Sligo but could not be detained because officers did not have the correct documentation.

He was eventually handed over to the PSNI at the Border in November 2011 after losing an extradition battle.

Questions for Gerry adams – Suzanne breen

Irish Independent

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