Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was under renewed pressure last night as questions mounted over his claims that he did not know his brother held office in west Belfast after he had ousted him from the party.
The party yesterday revealed that following several weeks of investigation into Liam Adams’ role in Sinn Fein it had been discovered he had been actively involved in party work in west Belfast three years after his MP brother had expelled him.
Sinn Fein said that for a number of years from 2000 Liam Adams, who is facing allegations that he abused his own daughter, involved himself in local party work in Belfast and held the position of chairman of a party branch in Andersonstown — close to Sinn Fein headquarters and Gerry Adams’ home.
Gerry Adams, who discovered the abuse allegations in 1987, said previously that he forced his brother to leave the party in 1997 when he found out he was seeking to run as a Sinn Fein candidate in the Irish parliamentary elections.
Yesterday Mr Adams claimed he only discovered on Thursday that his brother had reinvolved himself with the party after that time. The West Belfast MP added that had he known about the move he would have acted to have his brother leave the party for a second time.
Journalist Suzanne Breen, the northern editor of the Sunday Tribune newspaper, said Gerry Adams had broken his own party's rules. “He could have said there were allegations against his brother Liam,” she said.
“Gerry Adams, by not doing so, has actually broken Sinn Fein's constitution which states when a member becomes aware of sexual allegations against another member they are bound to inform Sinn Fein's ard comhairle (party executive). Gerry Adams failed to do that.”
Mr Adam’s ignorance of his brother’s involvement in the party has also been questioned.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “The president of Sinn Fein says that he didn't know his brother was a member of Sinn Fein at all. These explanations don't stack up.”
And Ian Paisley jnr, who earlier this week asked an Assembly committee to investigate if Gerry Adams breached its rules by failing to act about his brother's alleged sex abuse, said that “ignorance is not an excuse”.
And TUV leader Jim Allister said Sinn Fein “has had to eat its words about Liam Adams being cut off by the party”.