Gerry Adams faces investigation for failing to report sexual abuse by brother
Northern Ireland officials will review conduct of Sinn Féin president, who admits he held back information on Liam Adams
Gerry Adams speaks to the media after his brother Liam was convicted of raping and sexually abusing his daughter. Photograph: Art Widak/Demotix/Corbis
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Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
Monday 7 October 2013 15.05 BST First published on Monday 7 October 2013 15.05 BST
The attorney general in Northern Ireland is to review the conduct of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, in withholding information about his convicted paedophile brother, Liam.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed on Monday that the province’s most senior law officer would “be given full access to all materials that he considers necessary” in relation to the behaviour of the former West Belfast MP in the Liam Adams scandal.
The PPS also defended Barra McGrory QC, the director of public prosecutions in Northern Ireland, for deciding not to prosecute the Sinn Féin leader over his admission that he had held back information about Liam Adams’ sexual abuse of his daughter Áine.
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A PPS spokesperson said: “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.”
Ever since his brother was convicted in last week of raping and sexually abusing his daughter, Gerry Adams has faced criticism of his role in the scandal that has engulfed the most famous republican family in Ireland.
The Sinn Féin leader has come under sustained criticism from political opponents, and even one former IRA hunger striker, for failing to tell the authorities about Áine Adams’ claims of abuse for several years.
Gerry Adams has known about her claims – now verified in court – for 26 years. Since hearing his niece’s testimony about years of rape and abuse, the Sinn Féin chief has been to his brother’s second wedding, was photographed with him canvassing in an Irish general election in Co Louth in 1997, and even secured a job for his brother at a youth centre in his old west Belfast constituency.
The former MP turned TD for Louth in the Irish Republic spoke publicly about Áine Adams’ ordeal only after an Ulster Television programme in 2009 broadcast her story. On the programme Gerry Adams said that when she first told him about the abuse in 1987 he believed her.
Following the programme he went on local television to reveal that his father, Gerry Adams Sr – a one-time IRA icon in Belfast – had sexually abused members of his family. The Sinn Féin president’s revelation about his father came after the latter was given a full republican funeral, during which his most famous son placed an Irish tricolour on his coffin.
Gerry Adams has stated that he did not tell anyone else in Sinn Féin that there were allegations against his brother Liam.
This appears to contradict his party’s constitution, which states: “Where allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are made, they should be referred directly to an ard chomhairle [a national executive official].”
The former IRA hunger striker Gerry Hodgins has compared the cover-up of Liam Adams’s crimes with the Catholic church sending paedophile priests into other dioceses both in Ireland and abroad rather than allow them to be prosecuted for their crimes.
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