In most democratic societies, Gerry Adams' position as an MP and leader of a major regional party would be untenable.
He is a man whose word is not believed on the most important aspects of his life, he has been called a liar in newspaper headlines and admitted, at his party's youth conference earlier this year, that he can't sue for libel.
In spite of all this, Adams was the unanimous and unopposed choice as its candidate in west Belfast and is expected to easily top the poll. There is something deeply sick and dysfunctional about this situation.
Ed Moloney's book Voices from the Grave carries a special authority because it quotes the words of Brendan Hughes, one of Adams' closest allies in the 1970s.
In his 1996 autobiography, Before the Dawn, Adams describes Hughes as "a close friend of mine and a good-hearted generous comrade". They were arrested together and served time in the same compound; Adams even carried Hughes' coffin at his funeral two years ago and had visited him as he lay dying.
Voices from the Grave is a powerful work and it is not credible to brush off Hughes' testimony - as Gerry Adams attempts to do, by suggesting he was sick when he gave the interviews in 2000 and 2001.
I have spoken to Hughes and, although he was a heavy drinker, he still made a compelling witness who had clearly thought long and hard about his experiences.
He was often used as a spokesman by the IRA. He told a sanitised version of his story on a video called Behind the Mask, which Sinn Fein sold in its bookshop.
He was the anonymous IRA source nominated by the organisation to speak to Martin Dillon when he was researching his ground-breaking work The Dirty War which first revealed some of the stories of the Disappeared.
He was interviewed, with the republican movement's approval, by Peter Taylor for his book and documentary series Provos. He was articulate, he was credible and his memory was good.
So when Hughes says that Adams was not only in the IRA, but also sanctioned murders and helped organise the Bloody Friday bomb attacks in which nine people died, it has the ring of truth about it.
Moloney is working on a documentary in which the tapes recorded by Hughes will be played and then viewers will have the opportunity to assess his demeanour themselves.
The events he spoke of were imprinted on his mind - he could not forget them - and that was one reason for the drinking.
He attempted to write a memoir and even completed some chapters before the IRA ordered him not to proceed with it. Recording tapes, which were to be released posthumously, was his way out of this dilemma.
Adams has everything to gain by burying such accusations and Hughes had nothing to gain from making them. Besides, Hughes' account is corroborated by others.
The British and Irish governments both regarded Adams as being a leading figure in the IRA. He was specially released from prison to negotiate with the British in the 1970s and he has been named as an IRA leader in the Dail by Michael McDowell, who was justice minister at the time.
All IRA veterans - not to mention police and Army members who have spoken on the issue - tell a story which is totally consistent with Hughes' account, even if it does not overlap on every detail.
Pete 'The Para' McMullan, an IRA man who had served in the British Army, appeared on a Granada TV World in Action documentary in 1983 to describe Adams' role in the IRA in much the same terms as Hughes. "Gerry Adams' first major job was as OC of the Second Battalion, Belfast Brigade. It was one of the biggest and busiest battalions within the Brigade," McMullan told the journalist John Ware.
"Anything at all that goes on within the Battalion area, discipline, shooting, bombing, robberies, it doesn't matter what it is, he is ultimately responsible," McMullan said, describing Adams as likeable and well-respected.
During that 1971-72 period, three policemen, 19 soldiers and 27 civilians were killed by the Second Battalion.
Adams was later promoted and McMullan described attending a Belfast Brigade operations meeting with him at which the Bloody Friday attacks were planned. "I remember Gerry saying he was also concerned about the routes to and from the bombing because those were the things that were most important . . . He was one of the ones who actually thought up the economic bombings."
Gerry 'Whitey' Bradley, an IRA man from Unity flats, whose biography was published earlier this year, also links Adams to the Bloody Friday attacks.
Then we have the testimony of Sean O'Callaghan - a Garda informant in the IRA's Southern Command - that he attended IRA planning meetings with Adams and that Pat Doherty was, as Hughes also claims, head of intelligence.
Dolours Price, who bombed the Old Bailey, describes Adams as her OC at the time and the man who was also in charge when she drove people who, like Jean McConville, were about to be murdered and secretly buried, on their last journey. Richard O'Rawe, spokesman for IRA prisoners in the Maze, tells the same story as Hughes when it comes to the prison protests.
These witnesses to Adams' IRA activity do not share a common agenda; in some cases they hate each other. In fact, no one who admits to being in the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s remembers Adams not being a member.
Why, for instance, does Martin McGuinness not come forward to say that Gerry Adams was only in Sinn Fein? Or why is Gerry Kelly silent on this issue?
Reading Adams' statement, one is reminded of Bertie's Ahern's dismissive words when the Sinn Fein president denied all knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery: "What kind of eejits do people take us for?"