SF threat to sue over claims of sex abuse cover-up
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has threatened to take legal action against newspapers reporting that he and the party covered up sex abuse allegations made against fellow republicans.
The sex abuse allegations are corroding morale within the party and giving their opponents a platform to brand Sinn Fein as a sinister political cult.
Defections by elected representatives and younger members disillusioned with the party's performance in the Republic are reflected by disenchantment in the North.
Recent revelations about Gerry Adams's younger brother, Liam, and further allegations of sex abuse against other senior republicans threaten to seriously undermine Sinn Fein in its northern heartlands.
Liam Adams is wanted in the North to answer allegations about abusing his daughter and Mr Adams's handling of that situation has been questioned.
The latest revelation in the 'Sunday Tribune' -- about two other women, one saying she was repeatedly raped, the other that she had been abused -- prompted a curious response.
Sinn Fein issued a statement saying it was considering legal action against the newspaper's claim that two republicans suspected of abuse were not expelled from Sinn Fein.
"The allegations are founded on innuendo and sensationalism and not facts," said a Sinn Fein spokesman. "Gerry Adams and the party refute absolutely any allegation of covering up instances of abuse."
The fact that Sinn Fein felt it necessary to issue such a statement is an indication of how times have changed -- and the party's standing in its own heartland in the North.
In Dublin, city councillor Killian Forde left Sinn Fein after he went against the party line and voted to remove the waiver on bin charges. But Sinn Fein councillors in Sligo, Waterford and Leitrim voted for budget estimates that included charges for household services.
Last year, Domhnall O Cobhthaigh, a Sinn Fein councillor in Fermanagh, resigned because he said he could no longer remain in a party that was "implementing cuts, job losses and privatising public services at Stormont".
Sinn Fein said it had to go along with the DUP's economic policies, which it finds distasteful, to maintain its power-sharing arrangement.
Proposals on transport from Sinn Fein's Assembly minister Conor Murphy two months ago suggested moving Northern Ireland Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro, all publicly owned companies, "toward a performance-based contracting regime" and provide opportunities for private contractors.
Sinn Fein has a problem with its all-Ireland approach: it is very confusing -- with different policies in the North and the Republic.