“it is impossible to believe that any other political leader on this island would survive…”

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The guilty verdict in the retrial of Liam Adams on ten offences, including rape and gross indecency, against his daughter, Áine, leaves unanswered questions about the evolving narrative of his brother, Sinn Féin president and Louth TD, Gerry Adams, post the 2009 UTV Insight programme when the allegations were made public.  Indeed, the absence of Gerry Adams as a witness in the retrial was questioned by the jury – as UTV reports

During a first trial earlier this year, which was abandoned for legal reasons, the former west Belfast MP claimed Liam Adams had confessed to him in 2000, but rejected claims he had also admitted the offences at an earlier meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal.

However, Mr Adams was not called during this second trial to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution, something which was not lost in the minds of the jury.

A short time before delivering their verdict they sent a note into court seeking an explanation. In the note they asked for a reason why “Gerry Adams has not given evidence in this case as he is such a prominent figure throughout”.

Judge Philpott told the jury simply that they should consider the case only on the evidence given to them in court, and not to speculate on any other matters.

Here’s an edited version of a post I put together at the time of Gerry Adams’ evidence during that first trial [some links have been removed as they no longer work].

In cross-examination during the first trial, the defence counsel, unsurprisingly, questioned Gerry Adams’ evolving narrative of events.  From a 23 April BBC report

The prosecution put it to Mr Adams that he had said he had not been in contact with his brother for 15 years from 1987 until 2002, while photographs and other evidence suggested they had been in contact on a number of occasions.

“Well your grasp of the calendar of these events is better than mine,” Gerry Adams said, adding that the separation may not have been as long as 15 years.

Mr Adams told the court that he “did have a problem with exact timelines” for events, but denied that he had lied to a journalist about his brother in an effort to distance himself from him.

An Irish Times report 23 April noted another example of that evolution.

The court also heard how in 2007 Mr Adams told police about how 20 years earlier, in Buncrana in Co Donegal, his brother Liam Adams denied that he had sexually assaulted his (Liam’s) daughter Aine.

This statement was made in June 2007, Eilis McDermott QC, for Liam Adams, told the court.

But it wasn’t until October 2009 – “two years and four months later” – that Gerry Adams told police Liam Adams had admitted to him in 2000 that he sexually assaulted Ms Adams.

Ms McDermott said it appeared that Mr Adams and his solicitor had withheld information from the police between June 2007 and October 2009 about Liam Adams’s alleged confession.

“Not only were you withholding information from the police but your solicitor, it appears, was withholding information for two years and four months,” she said.

“You went to the police on this occasion [October 2009] because you knew that the question of your withholding information was going to become a matter of public debate,” added Ms McDermott.

“I did not know that but I knew that a TV programme was being made about the matter,” replied Mr Adams.

As an Irish News report on 23 April added

Gerry Adams said he had engaged with police only after his niece had gone to the PSNI in 2006.

The court heard that that Mr Adams, on the advice of his solicitor, had first made a statement the following year.

A further statement in 2009 revealed the allegation that Liam Adams had confessed to Gerry Adams nine years earlier that the accused had abused his daughter once.

Gerry Adams yesterday[Monday] said the timing of the second statement, a month before he was interviewed for a television programme about Ms Adams’s child abuse claims, “may be chronologically right but to link one to the other is absolutely and totally wrong”.

On 24 April the Irish News also reported on the subsequent testimony of PSNI Detective Inspector Eamonn Corrigan, the lead interviewing officer in 2007.

Yesterday Belfast Crown Court heard how Gerry Adams had not told police about the alleged confession until October 2009, despite making a statement to the PSNI more than two years before.

Mr Brolly asked the detective: “Did he refer anywhere in that detailed three-page statement about his brother having confessed to him between 2001 and 2007 or alternatively during a stroll in Dundalk in 2000 when it was raining?”

The lawyer later suggested: “There was not a whisper of a confession from Mr Gerry Adams.”

Mr Corrigan said: “That information was not given to us or it would have been put into a statement.”

As mentioned above, Gerry Adams’ 2007 statement to the police came after Áine Tyrell went back to the police, in January 2006, and had the case re-opened.

Liam Adams walked voluntarily into a Belfast PSNI station for questioning in February 2007. He was released without charge. Áine claims police told her it took Gerry Adams four months to make a statement to the PSNI on his brother. “The police said he kept making appointments, then cancelling them because he was busy.”

And that, in turn, was after Áine Tyrell ended a series of meetings between herself and Gerry Adams [from late 2003 to late 2005] - meetings of which Áine Tyrell has said,

“Looking back he was buttering me up. In the end I realised it was all about PR and protecting his own image.”

There was one other piece of new information to emerge.  It related to a question arising from a claim the Sinn Féin president made in 2010 - ”When [his brother Liam] worked in the Clonard Youth Club [1998-2003] I tried to get him to leave and when he wouldn’t I ensured that the authorities in Clonard were made aware of the allegation.”  From the 23 April Irish Times report

Mr (Gerry) Adams said he had informed a Clonard priest, a Fr McGoran, when he became aware of the sex allegations against his brother. Fr McGoran died in 2006, the court was told.

Then there was Liam Adams’ role as an active and founder member of the Lower Andersonstown Sinn Féin cumann, as well as joint signatory of the cumann cheque book, for “a number of years” after 2000.

Back to the present and, as Suzanne Breen points out in the Belfast Telegraph today

The most powerful man in Sinn Fein has treated his party’s internal rules with contempt. Liam Adams’ political career spanned both sides of the border.

After his involvement in the party in Dundalk, he went on to be an active and founder member of the Lower Andersonstown Sinn Fein cumann, which met weekly in the Felons Club, two streets away from Gerry Adams’ home.

He was a treasurer for Sinn Fein in west Belfast and a joint signatory on the Cumann mheon na Fuiseoige chequebook. He had previously been a member of Sinn Fein in Co Donegal and had attended party events in Dublin.

Gerry Adams knew that his brother was working with children in various youth projects in west Belfast. Yet, despite his public claims, he has produced no evidence to prove he took action to have Liam swiftly removed from his position by his employers. The only named person that he says he informed is a now dead priest.

Gerry Adams’ repeated evasions and failure to take decisive action to ensure other children were potentially not at risk from his paedophile brother surely make him politically toxic.

They certainly strip him of any credibility and moral authority he had left. His actions are hardly in keeping with a party which is in Government here and seeks the same in the Republic.

The Louth TD continues to cling onto the reins of power but it is impossible to believe that any other political leader on this island would survive such a damning history.

Read the whole thing.

Added  After the Policing Board meeting today Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly was asked by UTV

“Has Gerry Adams ever explained to you why it took him 9 years to tell the police about his brother’s confession?”

Gerry Kelly’s response [2mins in]

You know, I don’t know enough about the detail of this, except what I’ve told you.

People have been following this very publicly.  It has been horrendous not only for Áine Adams but for the whole family, and families, that have been involved here.  And they want to move on.

What they wanted was justice.  They got justice.  And then they want to move on.

For me to start picking at the detail or, if you don’t mind me saying, for you to do it, isn’t actually helping that process.

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  • Mick Fealty

    AU,

    The question is not relevant. All the evidence is that no one was ever told of Liam’s offending. Try this link: http://goo.gl/4h50S7

    “The use of PECS by organisations has a deterrent effect but should never be relied upon to screen out all abusers.

    It is not a foolproof guarantee of suitability. PECS provides a means for accessing any information, which might have a bearing on an individual’s suitability held by the:

    • Police (criminal records);
    • the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Policy (PECS Register);
    • the Department of Education (List 99); and
    • Protection of Children Act List (POCAL).”

    No criminal record, no foul in the view of the only system available when Liam was working with children in NI.

    Liam’s offending appears not to have been lodged in a place that any youth organisation could have known about his offending behaviour.

  • Pete Baker

    AU

    Acquaint yourself with the facts about PECS in this case – that was the check at the time.

    PECS is operated by DHSS&PS and a request for a PECS check involves checks against criminal records, records held in relation to those banned from working in schools and the PECS Register. The PECS Register is compiled from information provided by statutory and voluntary organisations in relation to workers who have been dismissed, or who have resigned, or who have been transferred – in circumstances where it is considered that they posed a risk to children or adults with a learning disability. The decision to place a name on the Register is made by DHSSPS in consultation with the Social Services Inspectorate.

    That was changed significantly in 2005 – after either the Clonard Youth Centre or the Beechmont Community Project would have requested a PECS check on Liam Adam.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Rodger that Mick.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    I stand corrected, Pete.

  • FDM

    Mick Fealty 3 October 2013 at 8:12 pm

    All the evidence is that no one was ever told of Liam’s offending.
    ———————

    Except the RUC of course in 1987.

    But shush about that, no-one wants to know.

    Just to be clear on this, the only person(s) who could be charged in a criminal court over this dereliction of duty are staff in the RUC at that time.

    Sorry don’t let me interrupt the mud slinging.

  • Pete Baker

    More interestingly, after the Policing Board meeting today Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly was asked by UTV

    “Has Gerry Adams ever explained to you why it took him 9 years to tell the police about his brother’s confession?”

    Gerry Kelly’s response [2mins in]

    You know, I don’t know enough about the detail of this, except what I’ve told you.

    People have been following this very publicly. It has been horrendous not only for Áine Adams but for the whole family, and families, that have been involved here. And they want to move on.

    What they wanted was justice. They got justice. And then they want to move on.

    For me to start picking at the detail or, if you don’t mind me saying, for you to do it, isn’t actually helping that process.

  • FDM

    When are the policemen who ignored a child rape victim in order to turn her into an informer going to be brought before the courts?

  • USA

    Thanks Mick, appreciate the fix.
    As a further housekeeping item, I was not quoting Megatron, I was replying to him by referring to a case I also had personal knowledge of.
    I accept your point that some of Adams’ actions / decisions proved deadly. So did the actions / decisions of thousands of others during the troubles / conflict. The female victims in question, in the case being discussed, were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    I don’t know what the media coverage is like over there, but I would expect SF and Adams will live to fight another day.

  • Kevsterino

    AU, as has been previously stated, if as the story says the complaint to the RUC had been withdrawn, there would have been nothing that a background check would reveal.

    It would have come back clean.

  • http://footballcliches.wordpress.com/ footballcliches

    Which is it lads? JC, be at least consistent?

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2013/09/10/look-simba-everything-the-light-touches-is-the-article/comment-page-1/#comment-1406973

    ‘ I’m not in the least worried about being seen to be out of step with ‘common wisdom’.

    Or

    ‘I think you are on your own mate.’

    I don’t know Mick, the problem with SOT and it’s credibility is how it likes to dine out in GA et al and unfortunately doesnt appear to be behaving upwardly…

    Oh well. I see FDM has a card for what precisely, calling out this sham of a story. You will notice the figures and viewings of pages, for what it’s worth I read his comments section every morning and evening to and from work as he’s one of the few commenters here whose cogent and incisive while others seem to be given carte blanche to flout the rules, I wonder why?

    Can I get a yellow card, pwetty pwease?!

  • toaster

    Gerry Adams should not be criticised

  • Mc Slaggart

    toaster

    “Gerry Adams should not be criticised”

    In this case I am sure their is many things that he could be criticized about. The problem with abuse in a Family it may go a long way and to expect rational though from those taking part to always occur I am sure will not often happen.

  • Mick Fealty

    Looks guys, the story is appalling and dreadful and right the way through. But, please, do not shoot the messenger?

    For instance, note the assertion to Tommie Gorman that Liam was ‘out of his life’ for 15 years (http://goo.gl/lRlmNx), and then right in the middle of this period, it turns out he nominates Liam for the same Dail seat in Louth Gerry himself now holds: http://goo.gl/vQ35H2

  • Wabbits

    Did any of you listen to the interview (above) that Martina Anderson (Sinn fein MEP) gave to Nolan ? I am finding it very disturbing that the media (broadcast in particular) appear to be running scared of tackling GA. Its a disgrace. If it were any other Party Leader it wouldn’t be treated the same way. Think about that. Does the whiff of cordite frieghten ?

  • USA

    Mick Fealty,
    All the evidence is that no one was ever told of Liam’s offending.

    But that is not ALL the evidence Mick. How many times must it be said (and ignored), we know they told the police back in ’87. The victims themselves clearly state this fact. This is the point where the system failed the victims. It quickly became quite obvious the police were not an option, the Adams family were left to sort it on their own. Like all families in such a situation, it was dealt with imperfectly.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The heading of this blog may be a false declaration:

    “My solicitor says that I didn’t do anything wrong so that’s that.”

    “I’m too ill to be questioned about my suspicious behaviour”.

  • Mick Fealty

    USA,

    It’s a shame you cannot see the original documentary, since UTV replayed the original documentary last night, and then made it available in the UK only online.

    But look, look at the timeline Pete did at the time (http://goo.gl/9B9Bd). The complaint was one of the first things on the list. Then it was withdrawn. This is the part where Chris Moore says it was withdrawn after pressure on Aine.

    FC,

    The yellow was a warning, not a punishment. But if you are going to act a bollix (and FDM was taking massive liberties in that regard), http://goo.gl/nNvDQ, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later… I’m up for honest criticism, not ad hominem man playing in place of argument.

  • Gopher

    It seems SF will forever remain a political movement and never make the jump to political party

  • Neil

    While you’re at it I would recommend the Belfast Telegraph timeline. It’s more comprehensive.

    January 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother report catalogue of child sex abuse to detectives at Grosvenor Road RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) station.

    February 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother retract statements about abuse over attempts to exploit them for intelligence gathering. A detective tells Aine Adams the file will be retained on record.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/events-leading-to-adams-conviction-29625548.html

    Seems quite likely that the pressure was being exerted by detectives from Special Branch to turn a vulnerable young victim into a CI. Certainly it could be extrapolated as such.

    I know the temptation to stick the knife in must be overwhelming, but it must be very difficult to completely ignore the fact that the people charged with finding and imprisoning rapists at the time were not in fact the PIRA. The RUC was supposed to be on that job, and faced with the choice between doing their duty and further abusing the victim by attempting to use them the forces of law and order decided to opt for the latter. They should be in the dock.

    The damage to Adams is political only, he was never in charge of youth clubs in Belfast, nor was he paid to investigate crime and prosecute offendors, he says he told the priest and that the police were informed. The suggestion that he was more interested in his image than Aine’s wellbeing is the most damaging aspect of the story.

  • Mick Fealty

    Very good spot Neil. Although if I were mounting a defence of Mr Adams, I’d consider diverting attention away from that note.

    See the PECS guidelines that were in force when Liam was working with children. The ‘note’ is not a criminal conviction.

    The RUC (as ‘police’) would/could not pursue such allegations once it had been withdrawn by the victim.

    Yet as Aine says in the UTV documentary the police medical examination conducted at that time is one reason she had a plausible case to take to court later on.

  • FDM

    Mick Fealty 4 October 2013 at 11:08 am

    The RUC (as ‘police’) would/could not pursue such allegations once it had been withdrawn by the victim.
    ——————-

    Quite true Mick. Well explained.

    Could you now explain why Aine withdrew her complaint in 1987?

  • Pete Baker

    “Could you now explain why Aine withdrew her complaint in 1987?”

    To begin with, we have Áine’s mother view that, during initial interviews in 1987, the police seemed more interested in who was going to and from their house than investigating the allegations of abuse.

    Given the circumstances, I’d suggest that it is, at best, difficult to judge how accurate an assessment of those interviews that actually is.

    However, the decision to withdraw the complaint was made a few weeks later.

    Again, according to Áine’s mother a social worker told her that the police wanted to meet her in Belfast city centre. And that social worker advised her not to meet them. She didn’t. It was after that incident that Áine’s mother decided they would not continue to co-operate with the investigation.

    The social workers involved in the case told the court that no such approach from the police was made through them.

    If you want to continue to see that as ‘proof’ of the RUC attempting to recruit a 13 year-old as an informer then there’s little I, or anyone else, can say that would convince you otherwise.

  • tacapall

    “The damage to Adams is political only, he was never in charge of youth clubs in Belfast”

    Now thats not exactly true Neil. Just who was in charge of The Blackie community center in Beechmount when Laim Adams was employed there and did that person who rubber stamped his employment know of the allegations against Laim Adams.