Gerry Adams: Lot of disinformation over niece abuse case
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has refused to explain why he did not tell police about his brother's sex abuse of his niece for nine years.
As Liam Adams awaits sentencing on November 5 in Belfast for six years of rape attacks on his daughter Aine, the republican leader claimed there was a lot of disinformation about the case.
When challenged about when he was first aware of the assaults on his niece and why he did not report them in 1987, the Sinn Fein chief pointed the finger at others.
"The police were aware over 20 years ago and there is a lot of disinformation being flung about in this issue," Mr Adams said.
"But let me say this, this has been and continues to be a huge ordeal for my family - we're a very large family - especially for Aine, but for all members of my family. And I think people need to be given the space to come to terms with all of that.
"And if it was your family, you would want the same respect and space and privacy on these matters."
During the trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged 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.
A short time later, Gerry Adams revealed his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.
He was a witness in the first trial which collapsed earlier this year. He told Belfast Crown Court he confronted his brother when they met in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and that 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.
Called on to explain in more detail his knowledge of his niece's abuse today and whether he has a relationship with her, Mr Adams refused to discuss the case further.
"I'm not going to talk about any of these matters beyond what I have said. It has been a very difficult ordeal for everybody in the family," he said.
Mr Adams was asked to explain why he did not warn authorities in Co Louth in 2003 that allegations had been made about his brother, who was working with children in Dundalk at the time.
Mr Adams went on to be elected for the Irish parliament for the area in 2011.
"I have answered all of those questions in some detail, in a number of very extensive interviews. The trial is only over yesterday. I have said what I need to say on all of that and we just need a bit of space to come to terms with that," he said.
The Sinn Fein leader also rejected local media headlines which questioned whether he was fit for public office.
"Thankfully that isn't in the hands of the Belfast Telegraph. That's in the hands of citizens," he said.
"I'm very proud and privileged to represent the people of Louth and to represent Sinn Fein. I don't take that for granted. It's a huge honour to represent Sinn Fein. It's a huge honour to have the support of your peers.
"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."
When pressed for a second time about going to the police at an early opportunity, this time in 2000 after his brother confessed, Mr Adams refused to address the issue.
"Again I have answered that question in detail. You seem to be, with respect, just ignoring what I'm saying," he said.
"Bear with me, bear with me, let me finish the point I'm making. The point I'm making is that this is a traumatic ordeal for Aine, but for all of my family and we do need the space to deal with all of these matters and that's what I respectfully ask you to do."
Mr Adams was forced to answer the questions as he joined party colleagues at the front of the Dail parliament in Dublin to promote referendums taking place at the end of this week.
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he would not comment on the Adams case but said everyone with information on abuse should know their responsibilities.
"I don't want to comment on the personal circumstances that apply in any family," Mr Kenny said.
"I have read the reports more than anybody else about this.
"Clearly, the issue of paedophilia is something that is of such sensitivity and importance that where information about this is known, it should be made known to the authorities, of course."