Failure to tell police of confession for nine years still hangs over SF leader
Published 14/05/2014 | 02:30
HIS brother's rape case unearthed many serious questions for Gerry Adams that have refused to go away.
The two trials of Liam Adams, the first of which collapsed last April, brought a sharp focus on the Sinn Fein leader that continues to hang over him. During the trials it emerged that, as far back as 1987, Mr Adams was aware of the abuse allegation against his brother but failed to tell police for more than 20 years.
Giving evidence against his brother at the first trial in April last year, Gerry Adams told the court that he became aware of allegations by Liam Adams' daughter Aine in 1987 that her father had sexually abused her. He said that when he confronted his brother about the allegations at the time, his brother denied it.
However, 13 years later, while out for a walk with his brother in Dundalk in 2000, Mr Adams told the court that Liam Adams "acknowledged that he had sexually abused Aine".
Mr Adams said he knew Liam Adams was working in youth clubs in Belfast and Dundalk, but still didn't notify police.
When asked by defence barrister, Eilis McDermott QC, why he had not brought it to the attention of police, he said: "At this point Aine was an adult."
He said: "This was a legacy issue. I'm not Aine's parent and I was trying my best to resolve these matters in a way which helped Aine and allowed Liam to get rid of his demons."
The court heard that in June 2007, at the request of the PSNI, Mr Adams made a statement to police about talks he had with his niece and brother in 1987 about claims of sex abuse, but failed to inform them about the confession his brother made in 2000. It was not until October 2009 that Mr Adams told police about the confession.
Mr Adams told the court that his solicitor at the time – the North's current Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory – had been aware of what his brother had told him from June 2007.
Ms McDermott put it to Mr Adams that he only told police about the alleged confession because he was aware of a TV programme about allegations against his brother, and that he wanted "to save his political skin."
Mr Adams responded: "If I had been intent on saving my political skin I would not have got involved in this process at the beginning.
"I was fulfilling my responsibility as an uncle with a niece I am very fond of. I would not have tried to do my best to resolve this. This is above politics."
A decision not to prosecute the Sinn Fein leader for withholding information was made in 2011 – before Mr McGrory became head of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS). PSNI officers recommended the PPS take no action against Mr Adams.
The Police Ombudsman was asked to investigate if detectives properly examined whether Mr Adams covered up the crimes. Northern Ireland's Attorney General is examining the role of prosecutors.