Gerry Adams’ brother, Liam, found guilty of raping his daughter Aine
Published 02/10/2013 | 02:41
Liam Adams, the younger brother of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, has been convicted of raping and repeatedly abusing his daughter as a child.
Liam Adams, 58, is a former member of Sinn Fein and a one-time IRA commander.
He was found guilty by a jury of 10 offences committed against his daughter Aine, who waived her right to anonymity. She was aged between five and nine at the time of the offences, which date back more than 30 years.
Adams, who was tried in Belfast, will be sentenced later. He had denied all the charges.
There was complete silence as the jury foreman read out guilty verdicts on all of the 10 charges to the packed court.
Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick and used a court hearing aid to follow proceedings, stood between two prison officers in the dock with his hands clasped tightly.
Aine Adams, who was surrounded by family members, wept and clutched her younger sister Sinead for support.
On the other side of the public gallery, Adams's second wife Bronagh and their daughter Claire, who gave evidence in his defence, also cried.
Adams nodded to them as he was led to the cells.
There was complete silence as the jury foreman read out guilty verdicts on all of the 10 charges to the packed court.Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick and used a court hearing aid to follow proceedings, stood between two prison officers in the dock with his hands clasped tightly in front on top of the crutch.Aine Adams, who was surrounded by family members wept and clutched her younger sister Sinead for support.On the other side of the public gallery Adams' second wife Bronagh and their daughter Claire who gave evidence in his defence, also cried.Adams nodded to them as he was led to the cells.
During the trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged four.
The first time she recalled being raped was while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.
In another incident she was raped by her father at a flat on Belfast's Antrim Road while her brother was asleep in the bed beside her.
Adams, who was a heavy drinker, also forced his daughter to perform sex acts.
The allegations were first made public when Ms Adams took part in a television documentary in 2009.
A short time later, Gerry Adams revealed his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.
Within days of the sex abuse scandal hitting the headlines, Liam Adams fled to the Republic claiming he could not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland. He handed himself in to police in Co Sligo but could not be detained because the Garda officers did not have the correct documentation.
He was eventually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at the border in November 2011 after losing a lengthy and expensive extradition battle.
The trial opened in April this year but collapsed due to legal reasons and the jury was discharged.
At that time, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was called as a prosecution witness. He told the court he confronted his brother about the allegations during a meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and Liam Adams had denied the abuse.
He then revealed his brother later confessed while they were out walking together in the rain in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2000.
Gerry Adams was not called as a prosecution witness for the latest trial, which re-opened before a new jury panel last month.
In her statement given outside Laganside court complex, Ms Adams thanked the media for helping her to tell her story.
She said: "I would like to give all my family a special thanks. Without their love, support and understanding I would not be here today."
She also expressed gratitude to the PSNI's public protection unit and the Public Prosecution Service.
"I would now ask for some privacy for my family to reflect on recent trying times," she said.
In a statement issued last night Gerry Adams described the trial of his brother as tough.
The Sinn Fein president said: "This has been a difficult and distressing ordeal for all my family and for my niece Aine.
"I would ask the media to respect our right to space and privacy.
"I thank the many people who have sent messages of support and solidarity."
The revelation of the abuse came as a huge embarrassment to Gerry Adams and his party when it was revealed four years ago.
The Sinn Fein President admitted at the time that he had known of abuses for some years, but said he had confronted his brother and warned his family and youth organisations about the activities of him and his father.
While he was accused of being slow in reporting the abuse, there have since been few signs that his political standing has been damaged so far. Sinn Fein remains the second largest party in Northern Ireland.
South of the border it has grown to become one of the leading opposition parties, an opinion poll this week placing it only three points behind the largest party in the governing coalition. Mr Adams is the second most popular party leader, within two points of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
Liam Adams was arrested in the Republic and sent north after losing a battle against extradition, arguing that he would not get a fair trial in Belfast. Aine Adams testified she recalled being raped by her father while her mother was in hospital giving birth. She said on another occasion she was raped as her brother slept in bed beside her.
In a statement read outside the court by a police officer, Ms Adams said: “I do not see this verdict as a victory or a celebration, as it has taken its toll and has caused hurt, heartache and anguish for all those involved. I can now begin my life at 40 and lay to rest the memory of the five-year-old girl who was abused.”
The shock of the revelations was particularly great because the Adams family had for generations been regarded as one of the mainstays of Belfast republicanism. In an interview, Gerry Adams said that his father had “carried out physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse.”
He added that after this emerged the family made sure no child was left alone with him until he died. He said his father “ended up dying a very, very lonely old man”.
In the witness box Liam Adams strongly denied all the charges he faced. He initially denied having been confronted by his brother and other family members about abuse, but later changed his story.
He explained in court that his father had always warned him to not to speak about his brother, adding: “You don’t talk about Gerry in the barracks, to the soldiers at the time, to the police, even in social gatherings as you got older. You didn’t talk about Gerry Adams full stop.”
Above: Aine, daughter of Liam Adams, leaves Belfast Crown Court
Events leading to Liam Adams' conviction
1977 - Aine Adams, aged four, is indecently assaulted by her father Liam Adams at her home in Westrock Drive, west Belfast.
May 1978 - Aine Adams recalls being raped for the first time while her mother is in hospital giving birth to her younger brother, Conor.
December 1981 - Liam Adams splits from first wife Sarah.
June 1983 - Gerry Adams elected as West Belfast MP and becomes president of Sinn Fein.
December 1985 - Aine Adams discovers Liam Adams has another young daughter with whom he is living in Donegal.
December 1986 - Aine Adams, aged 13, reveals in a letter to her mother that she was repeatedly raped by her father Liam Adams from the age of four.
January 1987 - Aine Adams and her mother report catalogue of child sex abuse to detectives at Grosvenor Road RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) station.
February 1987 - Aine Adams and her mother retract statements about abuse over attempts to exploit them for intelligence gathering. A detective tells Aine Adams the file will be retained on record.
March 1987 - Gerry Adams confronts his brother Liam at a house in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and threatens to hit him with a hammer. Gerry Adams is driven to Donegal by his cousin, Kevin Hannaway. Aine Adams and her mother are also present.
1990 - Sarah Campbell moves her family to Scotland.
1991 - Aine Adams moves to Scotland.
1997 - Gerry Adams is pictured smiling with his brother during an election canvass in Dundalk, Co Louth.
1997 - Liam Adams is expelled from Sinn Fein after his brother Gerry learns of his intention to stand as an election candidate for Co Louth. He continues to carry out work for the party.
December 1999 - While Christmas shopping, Aine Adams tells her younger sister Sinead she was sexually abused as a child.
December 2002 - Liam Adams confesses abuse against Aine when confronted by Sinead, during a meeting in Twinbrook.
January 2006 - Aine Adams returns to Belfast and goes to PSNI to have case re-opened against her father.
November 2007 - Liam Adams is arrested by the PSNI and questioned about child sex abuse allegations. He denies all allegations.
March 2008 - Aine Adams makes complaint to the Police Ombudsman.
November 2008 - Liam Adams fails to turn up at court in Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges. He fled to the Republic over fears he would not receive a fair trial.
December 2009 - Aine Adams waives her right to anonymity and goes public about the abuse in a television documentary. Gerry Adams urges Liam to hand himself in.
December 2009 - Liam Adams presents himself to Gardai in Sligo but cannot be legally detained because the necessary European arrest warrant has not been issued by the PSNI.
December 2009 - Gerry Adams reveals in a television interview that his father had been abusive.
March 2010 - Liam Adams is arrested at a Dublin police station, under a European arrest warrant which was issued by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
March 2010 - Liam Adams released on bail of 15,000 euros - half of which was put forward by his daughter Claire Smith after a hearing at Dublin High Court.
February 2011 - Gerry Adams wins seat as Co Louth TD.
July 2011 - Liam Adams launches a legal challenge against his extradition from the Irish Republic. His lawyers argue that he will not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland because of publicity.
October 2011 - Liam Adams loses fight against extradition. Dublin High Court rules that he should be transferred to Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges.
October 2011 - Liam Adams instructs legal representatives to appeal against the extradition order.
October 2011 - Liam Adams loses bid to appeal against extradition at the Supreme Court in Dublin. He is taken to a jail in Dublin to await transfer to Northern Ireland.
November 2011 - Gardai hand Liam Adams over to PSNI officers at the Irish border.
November 2011 - Liam Adams is to stand trial accused of child sex abuse. A district judge grants a prosecution application for the case to progress to the next stage. Adams is remanded in custody.
December 2011 - Liam Adams is refused bail after appearing at Belfast Crown Court accused of child sex abuse. Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said he was concerned about a potential flight risk if bail was granted. He is later granted bail.
April 2013 - First trial against Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court. Jury of six men and six women is sworn in.
April 22, 2013 - Gerry Adams takes the stand as a prosecution witness and denies claims he did not tell the authorities about his brother sooner because he was trying to save his political skin.
April 25, 2013 - Trial collapses because of legal issues and jury is discharged. Judge Corrine Philpott orders that a new trial be held in the autumn.
September 9, 2013 - New sex abuse trial against Liam Adams is due to open. Prosecution announced that Gerry Adams will not be called to give evidence in the new case. Proceedings are delayed because of further legal argument.
September 16, 2013 - Sex abuse trial for Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court before Judge Corrine Philpott.
September 26, 2013 - Liam Adams takes the stand to defend himself and strongly denies abusing his daughter.
September 27, 2013 - Defence and prosecution legal teams complete their cases.
October 1, 2013 - Jury of nine men and three women take about four hours to return guilty verdicts in all 10 charges with a majority of 11 to one. Liam Adams is remanded in custody.