Case returned spotlight due to UTV programme in 2009
Gerry Adams told previous trial that brother had admitted sexually abusing his daughter
Aine Adams, daughter of Liam Adams, leaves Belfast Crown Court yesterday after her father was found guilty of child sex abuse charges. Photograph: PA
The case against Liam Adams goes back to 1977 but came to public prominence in the past four years following a UTV Insight programme in 2009 when Áine Adams made allegations of sexual abuse against her father.
It prompted huge media and public interest because of the allegations themselves and because Liam Adams is the younger brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
After the programme Gerry Adams went on RTÉ to say some members of the large Adams family were “emotionally, physically and sexually” abused by their father, Gerry senior, an IRA veteran. Gerry Adams said he believed Áine and would support her.
Liam Adams retreated to live in Sligo and resisted attempts to be extradited to the North but in late 2011 lost that battle and was handed over to the PSNI.
It was alleged the assaults began in 1977 when Áine Adams was aged four and continued until she was aged nine.
It emerged during the case that the former West Belfast MP had confronted his brother about the allegations as far back as 1987. It also emerged in the course of the first trial, which was stopped in April for legal reasons, that Gerry Adams gave evidence of Liam Adams admitting sexual abuse against his daughter.
In April 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.
Yesterday Liam Adams by a majority 11-1 jury verdict was convicted on all 10 counts – three of rape, three of gross indecency and four of indecent assault. Mr Adams was not called to give evidence in this second trial. Both trials heard that in 1987 Ms Adams with her mother Sarah, or Sally, and Gerry Adams, travelled to Buncrana in Co Donegal where her father, who had remarried, was living. The court heard that Gerry Adams asked his brother had he abused his daughter 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.
She believed that officers, other than those who dealt with the sexual abuse case, were more interested in Gerry Adams than in her situation.
She also made a point about nationalists or republicans speaking to the RUC at that time of the Troubles. The police weren’t really trusted by her community, she told the court in this trial. Going to the police in 1987 was a “hard thing” to do. “I did not go happily but I went,” she added.
Liam Adams in his evidence said he was astonished when Gerry Adams confronted him with the allegations in Buncrana in 1987. “I was just completely dumbfounded. I was shocked. I said ‘Are you mad, I would not do that’,” said Liam Adams. The allegations were “absolute rubbish”, he said, and he was more than “devastated” by them.
Yesterday the jury believed Áine Adams was telling the truth.