Sunday 23 April 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Robinson seen as a joke but Adams must face serious questions

The habit of going easy on the Sinn Fein leader for the sake of peace dies hard, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

MOST of the Iris Robinson jokes are too gross for a family newspaper, but here is a printable one that is also my favourite. "Police in east Belfast are currently looking for a 19-year-old man who was last seen walking down the middle of the road, wearing a sash and singing, 'She was old but it was beautiful.'"

I've seen only one joke about the Adams family saga. No, it isn't funny and it doesn't even reflect badly on Adams. In fact, it's just another jibe at Iris, who has become a global laughing stock because of her surname and the age of her lover. Yet Gerry Adams, who has behaved much, much worse, is being given a very easy time and much public sympathy.

Let's just remind ourselves what he did. Or rather, didn't do. He admits he believed his then 14-year-old niece Aine when in 1987 she told him his brother Liam had raped her several times from when she was four, yet he allowed him to work in youth groups right in the heart of his fiefdom of west Belfast. Adams has said he told Clonard staff about the allegations. Clonard says it was unaware of any allegations about Liam Adams during the five years he worked there. What is shocking is that if Gerry Adams did indeed speak to Clonard staff, he didn't continue to press the matter, which touched upon both his own family and posed a possible risk to children in the heart of his constituency.

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