Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Gerry Adams denies withholding information about brother Liam's alleged abuse allegations to save political career - court hears

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams arriving at Laganside Crown Court, in relation to a sexual abuse case involving his brother Liam Adams who is accused of abusing his daughter Aine. Picture Colm Lenaghan
Liam Adams, brother of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams has denied that he only went to police nine years after allegations of child abuse emerged against his younger brother to save his political career, as he gave evidence in court today.

The trial of Liam Adams heard that the Sinn Fein president did not tell police until 2009 that he had allegedly confessed to the abuse as they walked together in Dundalk in 2000.

During cross-examination, defence barrister Eilis McDermott QC asked why Gerry Adams had not told detectives about the alleged admission until a month before a television programme relating to the child abuse claims was to be aired.

"I am suggesting that the reason you made this statement was to save your political skin," said Ms McDermott.

Gerry Adams replied: "If I had been interested in saving my political skin I would not have got involved with the process at the beginning. I tried to fulfil my responsibility as an uncle to a young woman I am very fond of.

"This is above politics and saving my political skin had no consideration in any of these matters."

The court heard that Gerry Adams, on the advice of his solicitor, made two separate statements to police in 2007 and 2009.

"The statement came in two parts - two months and four months apart - and just one month before you were interviewed by a television journalist," said Ms McDermott.

Mr Adams answered: "That may be chronologically right but to link one to the other is absolutely and totally wrong."

Liam Adams from Bearnagh Drive in west Belfast is standing trial at Belfast Crown Court accused of 10 counts of child sex abuse including rape, indecent assault and gross indecency.

He has denied all the charges against him.

Aine Adams (40) claims she was abused from the age of four until about nine-years-old, between 1977 and 1983.

Gerry Adams, who was sworn in as a prosecution witness, gave evidence to the jury of six men and six women for almost four hours.

He repeatedly denied he had wanted to avoid claims that he withheld information about child sex abuse.

"You went to the police on this occasion (October 21, 2009) because you knew that the question of your withholding information was going to become a matter of public debate," Ms McDermott said.

Mr Adams said: "I did not know that but I knew that a TV programme was being made about the matter."

The Louth TD said he had been accompanied to the court by his personal assistant and former press officer, Richard McAuley as well as his solicitor.

In 1987, when the allegations first emerged, he was MP for West Belfast.

Earlier the trial heard how Liam Adams had worked at a number of youth clubs in the heartland of his brother's former constituency - Clonard Youth Club for five years from 1998 and another club in the Beechmount area known as the Blackie Centre from about 2004.

He also worked with young people aged in their mid to late teens in Dundalk - which is in his brother's current constituency of Louth - for about a year from 2003.

Liam Adams had passed police checks, it was claimed in court.

Gerry Adams said he had told a priest called Fr McGoran about the sex abuse allegations when he became aware that his brother was working with children at Clonard but had not gone to the police.

"At this point Aine was an adult. This was a legacy issue. I am not Aine's parent. I am an uncle and she has many uncles. I was trying my best to resolve these matters in a way which helped Aine but also in a way which helped Liam to get rid of his demons," he said.

Ms McDermott suggested that it was his duty as an MP to inform the civil authorities.

"You have a duty to inform the police if you thought your brother posed a danger," she said.

Mr Adams replied: "I did not believe that my brother was a danger. Given his acknowledgement to me and the fact that he said this only happened the once. I have had lengthy conversations with my brother and I think I knew him very well."

Gerry Adams said he only engaged with the police after Aine went to the PSNI in 2006.

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