How the media's failings allow Gerry Adams to rewrite history
The Sinn Fein president's account of contacts with his suspected paedophile brother Liam is falling apart. So why do TV and newspapers treat him with kid gloves, asks Suzanne Breen
It's a cover-up that rivals anything the Catholic Church could conduct.
While the sins of the bishops who moved paedophile priests from parish to parish are finally catching up with them, Sinn Fein is lying and prevaricating its way out of Liam Adams's involvement in the party. And it's getting away with it.
Sinn Fein said that Liam Adams - wanted by the PSNI on charges of repeatedly raping his daughter Aine Tyrell from the age of four - played a short-lived, minor role in the party.
Louth TD Arthur Morgan claimed "he was never a party officer". Last weekend's Sunday Tribune revealed that was untrue.
Liam Adams was Sinn Fein's most senior officer in Co Louth. He was chairman of the Louth comhairle ceantair in 1996, liaising directly with the national leadership. It's inconceivable Gerry Adams didn't know this.
Gerry Adams said he believed his brother was a paedophile from the moment Aine made her allegations in 1987. Yet 10 years later, he went canvassing with Liam through the streets of Dundalk in the southern general election. Photos show them laughing and smiling.
This was at a time when Sinn Fein had previously led us to believe Liam had been expelled from the party and was estranged from Gerry. Would Peter Robinson, Jim Allister or Mark Durkan get away with taking someone they believed to be a paedophile on a canvass? I think not.
Yet Gerry Adams is enjoying an unbelievably easy ride from the media. Other politicians have been pursued for far less. Iris Robinson was hounded over anti-gay comments she made. Her remarks were debated and condemned in countless newspaper pages and radio and television programmes.
While Mrs Robinson's comments appalled all of us who cherish equality and support gay rights, let's remember - they were only words. Iris Robinson didn't bring someone suspected of physically or sexually assaulting gay people with her on a canvass.
And look at what happened Paul Berry. He was immediately suspended by the DUP over allegations that he had a consensual sexual liaison with an adult male in a Belfast hotel room. The media wagon circled and Berry's DUP career was over.
Yet Gerry Adams escapes unexamined and unquestioned. This story isn't being covered by newspapers in Northern Ireland, the Republic or Britain. Our broadcasters are also turning a blind eye. Why?
There are no demands that Gerry Adams put himself forward at a press conference to answer detailed questions from a wide selection of journalists. And there are many questions for him and Sinn Fein to answer because the party's version of events is full of lies, evasions and inaccuracies.
Gerry Adams forgot to tell Chris Moore on UTV that Liam had been in Sinn Fein. That fact was established later by the Sunday Tribune. Gerry Adams then admitted knowing Liam was in the party. When he heard Liam was seeking the Sinn Fein Dail nomination in Louth, Gerry "moved very, very quickly" to have him "dumped" from the party.
The Sunday Tribune can date this nomination to October 1996. Yet eight months after that far from being dumped, Liam accompanied Gerry on a canvass and met the women and children of Dundalk.
And five months after that Liam chaired the 40th anniversary commemoration at Edentubber for five IRA men killed in the Border campaign. So 13 months after the date when Gerry claims he first learned Liam was in the party, Liam remained highly respected and highly active in Sinn Fein.
And who doesn't believe that in June 1996, when Liam stood by Martin McGuinness's side as McGuinness cut the ribbon to open the party's new office in Dundalk, that Gerry didn't know Liam was in Sinn Fein. It was a widely publicised event with a photo of McGuinness and Liam appearing in Dundalk's Argus newspaper.
Why isn't the media quizzing Martin McGuinness? McGuiness must be asked if he knew Liam was a suspected paedophile when he posed for those photographs. After all, Gerry had known for almost a decade. Did Gerry not tell Martin and, if he didn't, isn't the Deputy First Minister furious?
At Edentubber in November 1997, Liam Adams stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Sinn Fein's then national chairman Mitchel McLaughlin, whom he introduced as the main speaker. Did Gerry tell Mitchel that he was standing beside an alleged child rapist that day? And if Gerry stayed stum, isn't Mitchel angry?
There are many good people in Sinn Fein, hugely opposed to cover-ups on child abuse. Gerry Adams's untruths and evasions is a disservice to them. His behaviour is certainly not that expected of a long-standing public representative and international statesman.
Besides Liam's role in Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams has other questions to answer. Why did he go to Liam's second wedding when he believed he was a paedophile? Gerry says he told youth projects in west Belfast about Liam when he became aware of his work there. Where is his written record of this and who did he actually speak to?
How did Liam work for five years in Clonard Youth Centre - 300 yards from Sinn Fein's Falls Road offices and located in the grounds of the monastery where Gerry worships?
As part of their cover-up, Sinn Fein are diverting attention from the hard questions by claiming "these stories are emanating from dissidents". Republican dissidents last year brought murder and mayhem to Northern Ireland and undoubtedly will try to do the same this year. They are responsible for many things. What they can't be blamed for is the alleged rape of Aine Tyrell, for recruiting Liam Adams to Sinn Fein, for promoting him through the ranks, for securing him key jobs working with young people, and for engaging in an extensive cover-up about his political activities.
Local Dundalk newspapers openly detail Liam Adams's Sinn Fein's activities. But blaming the dissidents is part of the Adams leadership's strategy in dealing with its own mess.
It's aimed at turning the media off the story. So far, disgracefully, it seems to be working.