Decision not to prosecute Gerry Adams over ‘withholding information on sex abuser brother to be reviewed’
Published 07/10/2013 | 14:19
The decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over allegations he covered up for his sex abuser brother is to be reviewed.
Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin has been asked to examine what the republican leader told police about Liam Adams and when.
The paedophile will be sentenced on November 5 in Belfast for six years of rape attacks on his daughter Aine in the 1970s.
While he admitted he could have acted differently with the benefit of hindsight, Gerry Adams insists that he co-operated fully with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecutions Service (PPS) and prosecution lawyers all along.
Mr Adams first heard in 1987 that his brother had abused his niece.
He told Liam Adams' first trial which collapsed earlier this year that he had confessed in 2000 but he did not pass that information to the police for another nine years.
Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC said there had been considerable public interest in the case and asked the AG to launch the review of evidence.
"While the director has confidence in the evidential decision taken by the PPS prior to his appointment, he has asked the Attorney General to independently review the matter," a spokesman for the PPS said.
"The Attorney General will be given full access to all materials that he considers necessary in order to complete this review."
Mr Adams has insisted that the police were aware of the allegations against his brother as far back as 1987 but he is facing deepening criticism over his failure to make a more frank statement in the nine years after his brother came clean.
He also claimed an agenda at play amid the continued controversy surrounding the case.
"This is a matter for the legal authorities although I note that the PPS has said it has 'confidence in the evidential decisions' previously taken in this case," Gerry Adams said.
"However, it is clear that there are some politicians and elements in the media who have decided to use this issue for opportunistic and party political reasons and who seek to politicise what is at its heart a family tragedy."
Mr Adams claimed that he co-operated fully with the Northern Ireland authorities in relation to allegations over his brother.
He also claimed that before he gave a full and frank statement to the police in 2009 and that Aine told him she wanted her father to acknowledge that he abused her.
Paul Givan, Democratic Unionist MLA for Lagan Valley and chairman of the justice committee at Stormont, said questions should be asked of the PPS over its initial handling of the case.
"The PPS has the power, which it uses frequently, to ask for people to be investigated by the police and establish if there is sufficient evidence to bring forward a prosecution but on this occasion it did not ask for any further information," he said.
"There is a clear question of confidence in the PPS in respect of its handling of this case.
"It is critical that whilst everyone is equal before the law, they are equally subject to the law. The public must have confidence in the criminal justice system to act impartially at all times."
Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Tom Elliott said there are unresolved issues in the Liam Adams case.
"There is a great deal of disquiet in the community regarding this case and I believe a full investigation of the role played by Gerry Adams, and in particular what he knew and when, is required," Mr Elliot said.
"There is obvious concern that Liam Adams was allowed to remain at large for such a long time after he had admitted his guilt to his brother, and was able to secure employment working with young people in both the Republic and in Belfast.
"The more clarity and certainty that can be provided, the better for all concerned."
During the Liam Adams' trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse she suffered from four years of age.
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 that his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.
It was a round the time that the documentary was being made that Mr Adams gave a statement to police with information on what he knew about the abuse.
He was a witness in the first trial which collapsed earlier this year. He told Belfast Crown Court he first confronted his brother when they met in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and that Liam Adams had denied the abuse.
He then revealed that his brother later confessed while they were out walking together in the rain in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2000.