Adams says issue of brother’s abuse being politicised
Sinn Fein president responds to criticism over his handling of the abuse of his niece
Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams speaks to the media at the launch of the Sinn Fein Budget for 2014 at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he would inform the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) or the Garda in the event of a member of the public coming to him with concerns about the abuse of a minor within their family.
Mr Adams was responding to questions from journalists at the launch of Sinn Fein’s alternative budget in Dublin yesterday.
They related to the decision of Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory to direct the North’s Attorney General John Larkin to review the decision not to prosecute Mr Adams over an allegation he withheld information about his brother Liam who was last week convicted of raping and sexually abusing his daughter Áine over a six-year period from 1977.
In Liam Adams’s trial, and in a previous trial that collapsed for legal reasons, it emerged that Gerry Adams had confronted his brother about the allegations as far back as 1987 but that he denied the allegation. The trials heard that in January 21st, 1987, Áine Adams, then aged 13, went to the RUC to make the sexual abuse allegations against her father but that three weeks later she returned to the Belfast police station to retract these charges.
In the first trial earlier this year, Gerry Adams said that in 2000 his brother admitted to him that he had abused Ms Adams. This admission took place during a long “walk in the rain” in Dundalk, said the Sinn Féin president. Liam Adams denied raping his daughter and said the abuse had happened only once.
Mr Adams said today members of the public had come to him with concerns regarding abuse within their families. “If a minor has been involved, I’ve told them that I have to report it to the PSNI or the gardai,” he said.
He claimed there was a “distinction” between whether the abused party were adults or minors. “[If adults are involved] my best advice to them is to seek counselling, to take advice from professionals, to mind themselves, and if they want to go the PSNI or the gardai, to do that.”
Pressed on whether there ought to be a distinction between minors and adults, Mr Adams said: “I’ve given you my answer. Minors are a lot different to adults in that adults are capable of making their own decisions.”
Mr Adams was critical of the issue being made “political” by other parties. “I do take exception to the quite despicable lobby that is going on,” he said. “Some in the DUP and some in Fianna Fáil are coming at this in a very political way. I reject that.
“Áine was vindicated. Liam has been found guilty – and that affects his family, it affects the wider family. We just do our best to get on with it.”
Asked whether he was confident he will have no questions to answer, he said: “I know that I have committed no offence, and I know that I did what I considered to be the right thing, and that I co-operated fully with the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service, with the court.
“I am obviously concerned that when my family picked up newspapers this morning – and when they pick up newspapers tomorrow morning on the back of this press conference – there is this attention on this and on me. That is my real concern.”
He refused to say whether he would consider his position as president of Sinn Fein in the event of negative findings against him.