Tough questions raised... and months later they remain to be answered
Published 14/05/2014 | 12:00
His brother's rape case unearthed many serious questions for Gerry Adams – and they refuse to go away.
The two trials of Liam Adams, the first of which collapsed last April, brought a sharp focus on Gerry Adams that continues to hang over him.
During the trials it emerged that as far back as 1987 the SF chief was aware of the abuse allegation against his brother, but failed to tell police for over 20 years.
Giving evidence against his brother at the first trial in April last year, Mr Adams told the court that he became aware of allegations by Liam Adams' daughter Aine in 1987 that her father had sexually abused her. He said that when he confronted his brother about the allegations at the time Liam denied it.
However, 13 years later, while out for a walk with his brother in Dundalk in 2000, Mr Adams told the court that Liam "acknowledged that he had sexually abused Aine".
Mr Adams said he knew Liam was working in youth clubs in Belfast and Dundalk, but still did not tell police of the confession.
When asked by defence barrister Eilis McDermott QC why he had not brought it to the attention of police, he said: "At this point Aine was an adult. This was a legacy issue. I'm not Aine's parent and I was trying my best to resolve these matters in a way which helped Aine and allowed Liam to get rid of his demons."
The court heard that in June 2007, at the request of the PSNI, Mr Adams made a statement to police about talks he had with his niece and brother in Buncrana in 1987 about the abuse claims, but failed to inform them about the confession his brother made to him in Dundalk in 2000. It was not until October 2009 that Mr Adams told police about the confession.
Mr Adams told the court that his solicitor at the time – the current Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory – had been aware of what his brother had told him from June 2007.
Ms McDermott put it to Mr Adams that he only told police about the alleged confession because he was aware of a TV programme about allegations against his brother, and that he "wanted to save (his) political skin".
Mr Adams replied: "If I had been intent on saving my political skin I would not have got involved in this process at the beginning. I was fulfilling my responsibility as an uncle with a niece I am very fond of. I would not have tried to do my best to resolve this. This is above politics."
Ms McDermott also accused Mr Adams of lying when, after the 1987 meeting, he said his brother "was out of my life more or less for the next 15 years". The court was shown pictures of both men together in the 1990s.
Mr Adams said: "I again take exception to you calling this a lie... he was out of my life for a period... I never denied being in contact."
A decision not to prosecute the Sinn Fein leader for withholding information was made in 2011 – before Mr McGrory became head of the PPS. PSNI officers recommended the PPS take no action against the Sinn Fein veteran.
The Police Ombudsman was asked to investigate if detectives properly examined whether Mr Adams covered up the crimes. The Attorney General is examining the role of prosecutors.
Gerry Adams has insisted he committed no offence and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.