The shadow that abuse cast over the family of Gerry Adams

The shadow that abuse cast over the family of Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams arriving to give evidence at his brother's first trial. Gerry Adams gave evidence at his brother’s first trial.

On a rainy day in Dundalk, County Louth, in 2000, Liam Adams confessed to one incident of sexual abuse of his daughter Áine, according to his older brother, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Liam Adams denied confessing but has now been found guilty of 10 counts of rape and sexual abuse.

In 2007, after Sinn Féin voted to accept the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams made his first statement to police about the abuse allegations.

It was not until 2009, nine years after that walk in the Dundalk rain, that the Sinn Féin leader told the police, in a second statement, that his brother had confessed to him.

In the Belfast in which Gerry Adams came to prominence during the Troubles, many issues, not least child sex abuse, had been hidden by the fog of war.
‘Historic crimes’
In December 2009, six years after his father’s death, the Sinn Féin leader, in an interview with Irish state broadcaster RTÉ, accused his father of sex abuse against an un-named family member.

“In the course of dealing with the issue of Áine and the injustice done to her, a family member told me that they had been abused.

“I immediately brought all my siblings together and we tried to deal with that as a collective. And then I went and spoke to my father about it. I confronted him”, he said before adding, “It was physical, it was psychological, it was emotional and it was sexual. And for me one of the big questions is why didn’t I notice it.”

“Hindsight is a great person to have at any meeting. All I know is that my concern was to make sure that no one else was being abused; to ensure that those who were abused had every assistance and support.

“And as they were adults dealing with historic crimes that they had the right – it wasn’t up to me to decide what course of action they had to take – that they had the right to take their own decisions,” he added.

He said he did not see Liam Adams as a danger to children.

In the years after Liam Adams’ reported admission to his brother he worked at youth centres in west Belfast, where Gerry Adams was the MP, and in Dundalk where he is now a TD, a member of the parliament of the Republic of Ireland.

The centres in Belfast and Dundalk said they were unaware of the allegations against him and that he had been police checked.

They also said they were unaware of Liam Adams’ reported admission to his brother that he was a child sex abuser.

Liam Adams denied confessing but has now been found guilty of 10 counts of rape and sexual abuse

Gerry Adams maintained that because of Áine’s accusation he was estranged from his brother.

And that he moved quickly to get him expelled from Sinn Féin without telling people why.

The trial in which Liam Adams was found guilty was the second hearing of the charges. The first trial, in which Gerry Adams gave evidence, collapsed for legal reasons in April.

In court during the first trial, Gerry Adams was shown several photographs of himself and his brother together and was asked about his several references to Liam Adams in his autobiography.

The Sinn Féin leader denied lying about the extent of their dealings saying he had never said there was no contact.

Liam Adams, it also later emerged, had not been expelled from Sinn Féin but was photographed and written about in various articles in Dundalk and was also involved in the party in west Belfast.

Gerry Adams has said he was unaware of his brother’s Sinn Féin involvement in the city. He described it as “deplorable and reprehensible.”

He did not give evidence at the second trial.

It is unlikely the Sinn Féin leader will suffer at the polls as a result of the trial.

Most people will probably see the case as a family trauma.

There is little question, though, that the person who has suffered the most trauma is Áine Adams, the young girl whose private torment took centre stage in the most public of trials.

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