Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions has asked for a review of the decision not to prosecute Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams over an allegation he withheld information about his brother's child sex abuse case.
Liam Adams is to be sentenced next month in Belfast for raping on his daughter Áine onmultiple occasions when she was between four and nine in the 1970s.
In a statement this afternoon, a spokeswoman for Barra McGrory, who is head of the North’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS), said Attorney General John Larkin would now examine the case.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, recognises that there has been considerable public interest surrounding the decision not to prosecute Mr Gerry Adams in October 2011 in relation to an allegation that he withheld information in connection with the Liam Adams case.
“While the director has confidence in the evidential decision taken by the PPS prior to his appointment, he has asked the Attorney General to independently review the matter.
“The Attorney General will be given full access to all materials that he considers necessary in order to complete this review.”
It emerged last week that the PSNI examined a 2009 statement Mr Adams made to the PSNI relating to the abuse to determine if he had committed an offence. The police were subsequently instructed by the PPS that he should not be prosecuted. This was before Mr McGrory's appointment.
It emerged during the recent Liam Adams 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, the Sinn Féin president said.
The development comes after Mr Adams this morning defended his handling of the sexual abuse case that led to his brother being convicted.
Mr Adams said he “co-operated fully” with the authorities in the North with regard to allegations over his brother.
“With hindsight there are things I could have done differently, but I’m not on trial here,” he said. “ My brother was on trial. Áine has been vindicated. There is a lot of healing that needs to be done.”
Mr Adams has been criticised within his own party for not making a complaint to the police in the North until 2009 despite knowing about the abuse since 2000.
He told RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland programme that his niece Áine first went to the police in the North with the allegation in 1987 when she was a minor. "I never had that detail," he said.
Mr Adams said that when his niece followed it up, she was an adult and capable of making here own case against her father.
All she wanted was for her father to acknowledge that he abused her, Mr Adams said, adding he tried to facilitate that but did not succeed.
He said he gave a statement to the PSNI with the DPP and evidence in court on her behalf and against his brother. He said some of the criticism was valid, but others were “politically opportunistic”.
He added: “I have never hidden away from these issues, I’m a public figure.”
He said there had been some “really malicious” things written about him. “These are very difficult issues to deal with.”
During the trial, Áine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was four years old. 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 that his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.