The week Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams' credibility was left in tatters
Gerry Adams is coming under severe political pressure after scathing criticism from both sides of the Irish border over his handling of the scandal involving the sexual abuse of his niece by his brother.
The Sinn Fein president was last night maintaining a deafening silence over why he failed to report his knowledge of the abuse for at least nine years.
He also failed to speak out when his paedophile brother began to work at youth facilities in Belfast and Dundalk after he finally confessed to the sordid abuse.
Police are currently reviewing Gerry Adams’ handling of events to determine whether or not they consider he committed any criminal offences.
Officers are studying the evidence he gave to his brother’s first trial, which was aborted earlier this year. If he is deemed to have broken the law, he too could find himself in the dock.
On Tuesday Liam Adams (58), from Bearnagh Drive, Belfast, was found guilty of 10 offences, including rape and gross indecency against his daughter, Aine.
The abuse was committed over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983 when she was aged between four and nine.
Aine said she told her uncle Gerry of the abuse in 1987.
Liam Adams denied it for 13 years, according to Gerry Adams, before finally admitting the sickening attacks to his brother in 2000.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Gerry Adams told police of his brother’s confession, despite stating he believed his niece was telling the truth as far back as 1987.
The main opposition party in the Republic, Fianna Fail, has demanded the Louth TD explain why he failed to report the abuse.
The party’s justice spokesman Niall Collins said Mr Adams’ actions were “unacceptable”.
“The big issue that Gerry Adams must address is the fact that he knew his brother to be a child sex offender but appears to have done nothing to ensure the safety of other children at risk until he spoke to police in 2009,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have seen too many times in this country what happens when the reputation of organisations is put above child safety.”
The Policing Board was told on Thursday that the PSNI consulted with the Public Prosecution Service in 2010 and was advised there should be no prosecution.
However, the police subsequently confirmed they sent a file to the PPS recommending there be no prosecution.
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris told the Policing Board meeting in Belfast: “We will re-examine the transcripts (of the recent court case), but all the facts in our knowledge in 2010 have not been moved on materially since the recent trial.”
The former West Belfast MP did not give evidence during the second trial of his brother having appeared as a witness at the first, which collapsed due to a legal issue.
DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said: “It was only nine years later that he came forward with the evidence of that, and that was with the background of a planned documentary occurring around what his brother had done.
“I have not heard anyone explain why there was a nine-year gap between his knowledge and bringing that forward to the police.”
When challenged about when he was first aware of the assaults on his niece and why he did not report them in 1987, Mr Adams said: “The police were aware over 20 years ago and there is a lot of disinformation being flung about in this issue.”
He also hit out at this newspaper for questioning his fitness to hold public office.
He said of his position: “Thankfully that isn’t in the hands of the Belfast Telegraph. That’s in the hands of citizens.
“All of these issues were rehearsed before the election and during the election campaign. So that’s where I get my mandate from, not from the Telegraph in Belfast.”
During the trial Aine gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was four.
The first rape she remembers took place while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.
The allegations about Liam Adams were first made public when his daughter took part in a television documentary in 2009.