GERRY Adams reported his sister-in-law to social services accusing her of having a "dirty" house and poor "hygiene" but he failed to tell a social worker assigned to the family that his brother had sexually abused his niece.
Official records show that the family first came to the attention of social services in January 1986, when Gerry Adams reported that the children were "dirty and had lice in their hair".
These records reveal that Gerry Adams had said that "poor home-management standards" had, in some way, contributed to the marital difficulties of his brother, Liam Adams, and his then wife, Sally Campbell.
In the trial of Liam Adams, who has been convicted of the rape and sexual abuse of his daughter over a six-year period, the Sinn Fein president was asked if he disputed making the complaint to social services.
He said he had "no recollection" of making the complaint but that if he had brought anything to the attention of health visitors, or anyone else, it was not as a complaint but to "try and help in the situation".
Analysis Page 29
Gerry Adams first confronted his brother about the child abuse allegations at a meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal, on March 9, 1987, after Aine had confided in him.
The day after the Buncrana meeting, Gerry Adams was in the abused girl's home and met, by chance, the social worker who had been assigned to the family.
But the Sinn Fein president did not inform the social worker of the child abuse allegations against his brother.
In fact, the Sinn Fein president did not inform any authority in Northern Ireland until 2009 – a full nine years after his brother had finally confessed to Gerry Adams, in Dundalk in 2000, that he had sexually abused his daughter.
Ms Campbell was shocked when she heard, for the first time, that Gerry Adams had reported her to social services.
In the trial of her former husband, Liam Adams, she told the jury that while she had not much money or fancy furniture – and her children, like many kids at the time, may have picked up nits at school – she had kept a clean and happy home.
There is huge disquiet within Sinn Fein about the controversy engulfing the party's president.
Several of the party's elected TDs have made their displeasure known about the matter. "It's not good, it is certainly damaging for him and us," one party figure told the Sunday Independent.
Commenting on clerical child abuse in the Dublin diocese in November 2009, Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald said anyone found to have covered up the abuse of children should be arrested and face the full rigours of the law.
"Anyone, including gardai, found to be complicit in the cover-up of child abuse must be arrested and made to face the full rigours of the law," she said at the time.
Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Niall Collins said yesterday: "The big issue Gerry Adams must address is the fact that he knew his brother to be a child sex offender in 2000 and yet he appears to have done nothing to ensure the safety of other children potentially at risk until he spoke to police in 2009.
"Unfortunately we have seen too many times in this country what happens when the reputation of organisations is put above child safety.
"Deputy Adams needs to explain the reasons for his failure to act on the information he had. The approach to date, to hit out at public representatives and media who ask such questions, is unsustainable and unacceptable."
Gerry Adams has stated that he rejects "unconditionally" claims he committed an offence in relation to how he dealt with his brother's sexual abuse of his daughter Aine.
Yesterday it emerged that Gerry Adams is unlikely to face charges related to withholding information about his brother's sex crimes.
While Gerry Adams has said that Liam Adams admitted to him in 2000 that he had sexually abused his daughter, the Sinn Fein president has never used the word 'rape'.
Under the terms of the 1967 Criminal Law Act, only a person withholding information about an offence which carries a term of imprisonment of five years or more – that would include rape but not indecent assault – will face prosecution and possible imprisonment.
But whatever the legal arguments, Gerry Adams faces political pressure over whether he failed his niece morally by not going to the police.
Liam Adams went on to do youth work in west Belfast years after Gerry Adams failure to alert the police to his brother's confession.
In Dundalk on Friday, Mr Adams protested about how the DUP had been dealing with the fallout from his brother's conviction for the abuse of his daughter and also complained about a media "witch-hunt".
Mr Adams has said that the police and social services had full information and detail of Aine's allegations from 1987.
"I never had that detail. When Aine raised her abuse by her father with me again years later, she was an adult capable and entitled to make her own decisions on how she wanted to proceed," he said.
"It was not my place to take decisions for her or to take any actions, other than what she wanted at that time, which was for Liam to acknowledge that he had sexually abused her; that she had told the truth and to apologise.
"I worked to facilitate an engagement between them with the aim of getting him to do this. When Liam failed to do this, Aine went to the PSNI. I co-operated fully with the PSNI. I made statements in support of Aine. I co-operated fully with the Public Prosecution Service and with the prosecution lawyers.
"I gave evidence in court against my brother and in support of Aine. I reject unconditionally the charge that I committed any offence. I did my best and continue to do my best to deal with this issue."
The abuse of Aine began in 1977, when she was just four years old, and continued to 1983. In 2000, Liam Adams confessed to his brother that he had sexually abused his daughter, but Gerry Adams failed to report this vital information to police for nine years.
He has come under fire because he did not make a statement to police until October, 2009, a month before the UTV Insight programme that first made public the allegations.
The Attorney General in Northern Ireland, John Larkin, is reviewing a decision not to prosecute the Sinn Fein leader for allegedly withholding information.
Unless either Gerry Adams or his brother makes a statement confirming that a rape offence was admitted during their discussion "in the rain" along a beach near Dundalk in 2000, the PSNI is unlikely to pursue the matter.
Mr Adams has confirmed that it was 1987 when he first confronted Liam over Aine's claims that he molested her when she was a child.
Liam Adams denied the claims in 1987, but in 2000 he admitted to Gerry Adams that he had abused Aine.
Neither in the aborted first trial of Liam Adams, or subsequently, has Gerry Adams used the word 'rape' to describe the sexual offences he said his brother admitted.
Under the new Police and Criminal Evidence (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, the definition of a "relevant offence" for which a suspect can be deemed guilty of withholding information remains one which attracts a prison sentence of five years or more.
By Jim Cusack and Alan Murray