Suzanne Breen: Adams's silence on his brother's abuse strips him of all credibility
Published 02/10/2013 | 05:00
MAJOR questions hang over the political leadership of Gerry Adams following the conviction of his brother Liam for child sexual abuse. By not informing Sinn Fein of the sexual abuse allegations against his brother when he was first told them in 1987, Mr Adams broke his own party's rules.
Reporting restrictions during the trial meant that the Sinn Fein president's actions couldn't be put in the public domain. But his inadequate response after learning of his brother's paedophilia can now be detailed.
In 2009, Mr Adams told UTV's 'Insight' that he had believed Aine from the moment in 1987 when she told him her father had raped her. He said he'd always supported her and that, after hearing her claims, he had been estranged from his brother for 15 years.
So Gerry Adams has believed for 26 years that his brother Liam is a paedophile. Yet he attended his wedding, took him canvassing for Sinn Fein in Dundalk, and Liam remained a highly visible and active member of the party years after Gerry claimed he had him kicked out.
Photographs show the Sinn Fein president at Liam's wedding and reception in the Bellingham Castle hotel in Co Louth, 10 years after he said he was estranged from his brother.
He is pictured standing, smiling, beside Liam, wearing a green ribbon for IRA prisoners. Contrary to what he said, Gerry Adams maintained regular contact with Liam, staying overnight at his home in Dundalk.
Liam actually lived with him for several weeks in his west Belfast home after he had secured a job in a youth centre in Clonard.
Liam Adams was actually a high-ranking Sinn Fein member in Dundalk in the 1990s, and in Belfast the following decade.
He sought the nomination to be the party's Co Louth candidate in the 1997 Dail election but failed.
Gerry Adams has said that when he heard that the brother he believed to be a paedophile was in Sinn Fein, he "moved immediately" to stop his Dail nomination.
He said that he acted "to get him dumped out of Sinn Fein. I moved very, very quickly".
But photographs eight months after Gerry said he had Liam "dumped" from the party show the Sinn Fein president canvassing in June 1997 in the Dail election campaign. A photograph published in a local Dundalk paper shows Liam standing beside Martin McGuinness at the official opening of the party's new office in the town in June 1996.
And 13 months after Liam was supposedly "dumped" by his brother from Sinn Fein, he chaired the Edentubber IRA martyrs' commemoration in Co Louth, attended by thousands of republicans.
Gerry said the 1997 photograph was taken around the same time he found out that his father was an abuser, and should be seen in the context of attempting to deal with that revelation as well as trying to make his brother face his responsibilities.
But aside from this, Gerry is on the record as saying he didn't tell anyone else in Sinn Fein that there were allegations of paedophilia against his brother.
This contravened the party's constitution at the time, which stated: "Where allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are made, they should be referred directly to an ard comhairle."
The most powerful man in Sinn Fein treated his party's internal rules with contempt.
Gerry Adams' lack of decisive action meant that other children could have been put at potential risk from his paedophile brother. This strips him of any credibility he had left.
His actions are hardly in keeping with the moral authority that modern-day Sinn Fein so desperately seeks, as it is in government in Northern Ireland and wants the same in the Republic.
It is impossible to believe that any other political leader on this island would survive such a damning history.