GERRY Adams has admitted that he did not inform gardaí of sex abuse allegations in 2009 despite saying he has a moral duty to do so as "an elected representative and a citizen".
His comments came as both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton said the Sinn Féin leader's failure to inform authorities North and South potentially placed children at risk from rapists from within the republican movement.
Mr Kenny said: "We can't have a situation that known paedophiles were moved around the country for political purposes and God knows how many children have been or are in danger as a result."
Pressure is mounting on Mr Adams after he confirmed that he knows the identity of the senior IRA figure alleged to have abused Louth man Paudie McGahon in the early 1990s but will not make any attempt to establish his whereabouts.
"I didn't try and establish the detail of the case because it is not Sinn Fein's responsibility to investigate historical abuse cases. That is the job of the Gardai," Mr Adams told RTE's Six One News.
However, he had earlier said that people with knowledge of abuse cases have a duty to make this known to authorities.
Mr McGahon says he was abused in he early 1990s by an IRA man who was using the family home as a safe house. In 2002, he says that he reached out to Sinn Féin representative Pearse McGough who facilitated a kangaroo court where he was told that his abuser had also attacked other children.
The Taoiseach said: "We can't have a situation that known paedophiles were moved around the country for political purposes and God knows how many children have been or are in danger as a result.
"It is not tolerable and nor can it be accepted in any circumstances."
Mr Kenny added that if it were his party, he as leader would be expected to know the whereabouts of the alleged rapist and the circumstances of how the kangaroo court process came about.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said: "If Gerry Adams was a bishop in any denomination and these issues arose, there would be the same questions that religious leaders would be asked. We can't ask any less of political figures and leader of his party for over 30 years." She demanded to know what happened to the senior IRA figure alleged to have abused Mr McGahon.
"Was he taken out of the country? Has he come back to the republic? Is he in the north? Does he still have access to children and young people?" the Tánaiste asked.
Throughout yesterday Mr Adams repeatedly defended his party and sitting councillor Pearse McGough who is alleged to have organised a kangaroo court attended by Paudie McGahon in 2002.
He also confirmed that ex-TD Arthur Morgan - whose Louth seat in Dail Éireann Mr Adams took in 2011 - told him about Mr McGahon's allegations six years ago.
Despite this the case was not brought to the attention of gardai until after Belfast woman Mairia Cahill went public with her story on BBC's Spotlight programme late last year.
Gardai say that a file in relation to Mr McGahon's claims is currently being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night about the political fallout from his allegations, Mr McGahon was hugely critical of the Sinn Féin leadership. "If you are a member of Sinn Fein and they want to do something you do it their way.
"Within Sinn Fein nobody goes against Sinn Fein," Mr McGahon said.
Junior Minister Simon Harris said by their own admission, Sinn Fein has covered up allegations of sex abuse since 2009. "They are a party of cover ups," he said.
Gerry Adams didn't learn the political art of elusiveness in the usual ways, such as dodging tough questions on the airwaves, or wriggling post-election out of campaign promises, or stonewalling Opposition accusations thrown across the floor of local council chambers or the Houses of the Oireachtas.