“a request for a PECS check involves checks against criminal records…”

Claims that the police and/or social services face “serious questions” over the employment of Liam Adams as a youth worker in Dundalk and west Belfast after receiving “RUC or PSNI clearance to work in those facilities” are at best mis-informed. Leaving aside an Irish News report quoting a “police source” denying Liam Adams was ever vetted by them, Clonard Youth Centre – where Liam Adams worked between 1998 and 2003 – have been pointing to a Pre Employment Consultancy Service (PECS) form stamped and signed on behalf of the RUC and signed by a representative of social services. As the BBC report also notes, “Beechmount Community Project [where Liam Adams worked between 2004-2006] said he had been cleared to work with children and that the police and social services had “serious questions” to answer.” If there are questions arising from any clearance to work with children Liam Adams received, they are questions to be asked of others. Any prospect of a successful prosecution following Aine Tyrell’s 1987 allegation of abuse by her father, between 1978-1983, ended when, “under pressure”, she decided that she “didn’t want to proceed with the case”.

And, as Gerry Moriarty notes in the Irish Times, as late as 1995 Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was declaring that the RUC were “not acceptable” to deal with child and drug abuse.

Notwithstanding that Mr Adams spoke of his support for his niece in 1987, in January 1995 he said people should not report alleged cases of child or drug abuse to the RUC. This was during the first IRA ceasefire, when Sinn Féin still refused to accept the legitimacy of the RUC.

In late January 1995 Mr Adams told supporters in north Belfast that there were counsellors who could deal with issues of child and drug abuse. “The RUC are not acceptable and, indeed, are using these issues for their own militaristic ends,” he said at the time.

According to the interview with Tommie Gorman, the party’s position changed as Gerry Adams developed his knowledge about child abuse.

The absence of a criminal conviction is important to note. When Aine Tyrell decided not to proceed with the case what remained was an untested allegation of abuse against someone who was at the time living in another jurisdiction – County Donegal.

On to the Pre-Employment Consultancy Service checks.

As this Word doc file from Sport NI states “The Pre-Employment Consultancy Service (PECS) was established in 1981 following an inquiry into children’s homes & hostels as a result of cases of abuse in a children’s hostel (Kincora). The Pre-Employment Consultancy Service is run by the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety.”

PECS should only be used as part of an overall recruitment policy. It provides organisations registered with PECS in Northern Ireland with one means of checking the suitability of an individual seeking work with children or adults with a learning disability. It is designed to be an information service which provides an additional safeguard which complements and strengthens staff recruitment and selection procedures. 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).

As this Department for Employment and Learning memo [pdf file] notes the Pre-Employment Consultancy Service checks service was replaced by the The Protection of Children (NI) Service [and The Protection of Vulnerable Adults (NI) Service] on 1st April 2005 – after either the Clonard Youth Centre or the Beechmont Community Project would have requested a PECS check on Liam Adams.

The changes came about as a result of the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

As the archived ministerial statement by Angela Smith notes,

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. [added emphasis]

As a result of The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Disclosure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008, there is now a possible check that may have revealed the 1987 allegations – although it’s not guaranteed.

From the Explanatory Memorandum [pdf file]

(3) BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION

3.1 At present, the system for using police records in employment checking is by arrangement rather than statute. There are a number of inherent weaknesses to this system, in particular there is often uncertainty both as to the type of information which can be released and to the scope of organisations and individuals who can receive it. Further, the lack of a comprehensive system creates the possibility of abuse of the subject access rights available to individuals under the Data Protection Act 1984, where employers or others require individuals to apply to the PSNI for a copy of their full criminal record.

In 2008 Access NI took over the administration of the system for providing organisations with criminal history information about anyone seeking paid or unpaid work in certain defined areas.

And as this NSPCC doucment notes [pdf file]

For Enhanced Disclosures only, AccessNI will ask relevant Police Forces throughout the UK for any additional non-conviction material, including cases pending, which the Police consider relevant for Disclosure.

Whereas, from the same document, the new basic and standard checks indicate the likely extent of earlier “criminal records” checks

WHAT IS ACTUALLY CHECKED
AccessNI searches the following databases for every application.
• The Criminal Record Viewer – which contains the NI criminal record, and
• The Police National Computer – which contains the GB criminal record. In respect of a basic check the “spent” element of the criminal record is removed. For Standard and Enhanced checks, the full record is disclosed.

i.e. a check on spent and unspent criminal convictions.

More on Enhanced Disclosures here.

And the Vetting and Barring Scheme is now in place.

So any deficiencies in the vetting system have already been identified and, as far as possible, addressed.

But back to a key phase in the recent history of this case – when Liam Adams was working at Clonard Youth Centre between 1998 and 2003.

Gerry Adams has stated that “When I heard that he was working in youth facilities again I pressed him to leave and with one of the facilities I reported it to the authorities which were responsible for that facility [Clonard].”

But as I noted in the update to this post

Spokesperson Brendan Dineen said the centre had reviewed all its documentation “and there is no record whatsoever regarding concerns about Mr Liam Adams during his time of employment at Clonard Youth Centre”.

That absence of a record of anyone raising concerns about Liam Adams is significant.

If the authorities at Clonard Youth Centre removed Liam Adams from his position as a result of information provided by Gerry Adams – as he implied – then it would appear that under the The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 they had a duty to refer Liam Adams’ name to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for inclusion on the “list of individuals considered unsuitable to work with children”.

Of course, Liam Adams would then have had the opportunity to appeal against that decision…

And the questions that remain about this particular part of the story?

Who exactly did Gerry Adams inform about the allegations against his brother Liam in connection with Clonard Youth Centre? And if on that basis the authorities at Clonard then took action against Liam Adams, why did they not refer his name to the Department for inclusion on the relevant list?

, , , , , ,

  • Paul

    Gerry Adams has stated that “When I heard that he was working in youth facilities again I pressed him to leave and with one of the facilities I reported it to the authorities which were responsible for that facility [Clonard].”

    But as I noted in the update to this post

    Spokesperson Brendan Dineen said the centre had reviewed all its documentation “and there is no record whatsoever regarding concerns about Mr Liam Adams during his time of employment at Clonard Youth Centre”.

    That absence of a record of anyone raising concerns about Liam Adams is significant.

    If the authorities at Clonard Youth Centre removed Liam Adams from his position as a result of information provided by Gerry Adams – as he implied – then it would appear that under the The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 they had a duty to refer Liam Adams’ name to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for inclusion on the “list of individuals considered unsuitable to work with children”.

    Of course, Liam Adams would then have had the opportunity to appeal against that decision…

    And the questions that remain about this particular part of the story?

    Who exactly did Gerry Adams inform about the allegations against his brother Liam in connection with Clonard Youth Centre? And if on that basis the authorities at Clonard then took action against Liam Adams, why did they not refer his name to the Department for inclusion on the relevant list?
    Wrap up…

    This scandal is just horrific it just gets worse.I repeat I smell a cover up Gerry Adams accounts simply dosnt add up there no doubt will be more to come out and more questions to answer.

  • Framer

    The serious questions notioned today seems to have answered by the above excellent research.

    At the time of his starting work with Clonard Youth Centre, as an unconvicted person Adams’s name would not have shown up on a PECS check.

    End of story, unless you want gossip to replace the then established rules.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    The research above is detailed and extensive. The question remains of Gerry Adams, what did he know, when did he know it and what is the time line on informing authorities, acting with good authority etc. There is a repetitive shift in the Gerry Adams story here and Gerry Adams needs to show us there was not a cover up and is no cover up now. The issue is Gerry Adams’s credibility and economy with the truth and the past record is not encouraging. Let’s see complete transparency and openness on all this.
    It is not time to “move on.” The more light that is shed on this the better. It is not simply a “family” matter where “all are victims.” The principal victim is Aine. If the RUC were to blame then let the chips fall where they may OR the non-RUC civil actors in all this. But the above information and research points away from the police and the social services at this point. So let’s not indulge in diversion or smokescreens from G Adams or SF. Gerry Adams’s is an elected public representative and does not deserve the “benefit of the doubt.” He deserves fairness but that also means being completely open and answering questions fully. He is publicly accountable as a politician and obliged to detail the specifics of his contacts with the “authorities” or Clonard and name who he spoke to so that that person or persons can also speak on the facts.

  • alan56

    Curiouser and curiouser

  • tacapall

    The fact of the matter is that the police and social services were informed, The police took no action because Aine decided not to pursue the case in other words she retracted her statements, there was no case to answer then. If she did not want to pursue it then why was is it solely Gerry Adams responsibility to go about informing his brothers employers of the allegations against him although he said he did do it. Clonard youth club is run by the local parish it would certainly not suit them at this present time to reveal that one of their previous employees had serious allegations of child abuse labelled against him and they were aware of it but continued to let him work there. It dosen’t seem so impossible when you look at the priests who were continuously doing it and the catholic church were aware of it but done nothing but move them to another parish.

  • Paul

    tacapall and

    The spinning and smokecreens rountines from the sinners/trolls/spinners to try to deflect attention away from Gerry Adams on this scandal and his accounts which simply dont add up is quite frankly both sickening and laughable

  • pinni

    Thanks, Pete. That really helps to clarify this whole affair.

  • Ramzi Nohra

    Yeah good post Peter. I presumed something like that was the case given what happened at Soham (as another poster pointed out).

    However if there was nothing the cops could do, and you think they should be let off the hook (understandably), why do you think Adams, as a private citizen, should be the focus of attention?

  • The clearance of Liam Adams as a Youth worker

    I do not believe that the Police would have been able to use material which is merely an allegation. A conviction, most certainly but there does not seem to have been one and it really depends upon the quality of record keeping of unproven allegations and the weight that the Police and Social Services attach to the information.

    This is similar to the position with the Soham Murder case. Ian Huntley, who murdered two schoolgirls had abuse complaints made against him but not a conviction relating to child abuse. He was cleared for school caretakers job.

    Perhaps the PSNI and Social services ought to review their record keeping, access to it and their use of it but I donk think anybody will be looking for scalps in those services over this affair.

    Questions remaining about Adams’s conduct

    Gerry Adams himself has obviously been through a great deal himself. This would have been a strain on him throughout the time he was leader and I wonder if he would have confided with party colleagues about how best to deal with his brother. Perhaps this is not just about the conduct of Gerry Adams.

    The bringing to justice of Liam Adams

    We assume that extradition proceedings will bring Liam Adams into the Northern Ireland justice system and that there will be a trial some time next year or 2011. of course, we do not know if Liam Adams will deny the allegations.

    If he does, then for at least two weeks in Northern Ireland, this case will be massive news diversion. If Gerry Adams is still leader, this is bound to be a massive headache for Sinn Fein as each sordid detail about the abuse is revealed.

    Sinn Fein have some very difficult decisions to make.

  • Seamus

    However if there was nothing the cops could do, and you think they should be let off the hook (understandably), why do you think Adams, as a private citizen, should be the focus of attention?

    Posted by Ramzi Nohra on Dec 23, 2009 @ 05:19 PM

    Why has gerry attempted to divert blame to these other services, afterall with all his concern as to how his brother cleared various screening proceedures, enough to accuse these other agencies of wrong doing in some way.
    At the time he says he told the relevent people in order to have his brother removed from the job would have been a more appropriate time to complain to both agencies of their short falls, that would be directly effecting the safety of many more children other than those his brother had contact with.
    Why did he not ?

  • Alias

    “The police took no action because Aine decided not to pursue the case in other words she retracted her statements, there was no case to answer then.” – tacapall

    Aine’s mother said that the RUC seemed “more interested in recruiting her as an informer than dealing with Aine’s abusing father”.

    To what extent did the RUC’s utterly inappropriate attempt to use her daughter’s allegation of serial rape as an opportunity to recruit her as a police informer influence her decision to withdraw the complaint? The mother clearly was given the impression by the police were that they disinterested in the abuse of her daughter, and more interested in exposing her to the risk of a bullet in her head for being a tout.

    Apart from seeing an opportunity to recruit the mother of the victim as a tout, did the police also see an opportunity to recruit the father of the victim as a tout too? And if they did, were they more successful in the attempt than they were with Aine’s mother? If so, then what was the deal offered to Liam Adams one that involved no prosecution for the alleged serial rape of his daughter and ‘help’ if he found himself on the wrong side of similar allegations from others in the future?

  • Alias

    “…why do you think Adams, as a private citizen, should be the focus of attention?” – Ramzi Nohra

    If case you’re not from around these parts, Mr Adams is an MP and an MLA in addition to being the leader of the second largest political party in NI. He is accountable to the general public for his actions, unlike the victim or the victimizer. That is probably why the public is asking questions of those who are accountable to them and not from those who are not.

  • joeCanuck

    He is accountable to the general public for his actions,

    Generally at election time. Exceptions might be when found guilty of a criminal offence or found to have caused great public scandal.
    We’ll have to wait and see for any of those 3 things to occur.

  • tacapall

    Seymour Major

    You have hit nail on the head there, to me thats the questions that need to be answered ????.

  • Pete Baker

    Ramzi

    “However if there was nothing the cops could do, and you think they should be let off the hook (understandably)”

    There may well be other questions for other individuals and/or agencies to answer, but I don’t think anyone should be “let off the hook”.

    In this post I’ve set out the available facts regarding the vetting system and how it has been reviewed and altered since, but not because of, any vetting of Liam Adams.

    “why do you think Adams, as a private citizen, should be the focus of attention?”

    Gerry Adams account of events raises several questions.

    In the case of this post those questions centre around the contradiction of those events by the spokesman for the Clonard Youth Centre.

    Other questions are raised by his version of events around his eventual claim to have moved against Liam Adams nomination in 1997.

    Rather than, as the SF spokesman had previously claimed, in 1999.

    Or, as Gerry Adams had previously implied, 2002.

  • joeCanuck

    Pete,
    I wouldn’t make too much about people’s recollections of dates unless they kept a diary.
    I can remember everything I did every day last week, since I was on vacation (and had a great time in Havana), but ask me about the week before and I don’t have much have a clue. Since I no longer work I don’t have a daybook to remind me.

  • Alias

    “Generally at election time.” – joeCanuck

    365 days of the year (366 on leap years). Don’t confuse a private citizen who has no mandate from the public with a public servant who is elected by the public and who is accountable to them.

    Is that how they do democracy in Canada; and if it is, do you take notes of questions you would like answered and then ask then ask them all in one go every five years? I guess you’d either need a lot of notes or a great memory.

    Pete, I wonder if your question will be answered or even asked more widely, such as in Stormont or in its mother parliament, Westminster? Here we have a senior politician claiming that he informed an agency that employed adults to work with children that they had employed someone he claimed was a child sex offender and we have that agency flatly contradicting his claim, yet there are no calls to establish who is telling the truth here as if it doesn’t matter if either this senior politician is a liar or an agency working with children fails in its duty of care to those children.

  • joeCanuck

    do you take notes of questions you would like answered and then ask then ask them all in one go every five years?

    Alias,
    If it won’t be important when the next Assembly election takes place (2 years?), why is it so important now?
    We need to keep in mind who the accused perp is. From what I have seen reported. Adams did as much as could be expected at the time.

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    If you want to query those other questions some of the background is here.

    “Adams did as much as could be expected at the time.”

    In your opinion, Joe.

    But the questions about his version of events remain.

    Alias

    “Here we have a senior politician claiming that he informed an agency that employed adults to work with children that they had employed someone he claimed was a child sex offender and we have that agency flatly contradicting his claim, yet there are no calls to establish who is telling the truth here as if it doesn’t matter if either this senior politician is a liar or an agency working with children fails in its duty of care to those children.”

    Indeed.

  • Seamus

    Joe did gerry not say that as soon as he heard anything of the nomination in Dundalk he moved and had liam thrown out of the party ?

  • tacapall

    “Here we have a senior politician claiming that he informed an agency that employed adults to work with children that they had employed someone he claimed was a child sex offender and we have that agency flatly contradicting his claim, yet there are no calls to establish who is telling the truth here as if it doesn’t matter if either this senior politician is a liar or an agency working with children fails in its duty of care to those children.”

    These youth clubs were all in republican areas, if Gerry Adams went directly to them and informed them of the allegations Im 100% sure they would have remained 100% quiet about it and told no one, even now ! after all lets be honest about who we are talking about. Even though it would suit Gerry Adams if they spoke freely now, it would be frightening for people to admit that he did tell them and they didn’t act.

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t know, Seamus. I was away when this broke so I can only go by the secondhand reports and comments I have seen here on Slugger this past two days.
    I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. I am not a fan of either Gerry Adams or S.F. but I have a underlying belief in due process, not withstanding another’s belief in his right to condemn.

  • Seamus

    Sorry Joe i was`nt aware of you not being around when the story broke. Anyway.

    Gerry said that as soon as he heard anything about liam being put forward for nomination as a SF candidate in Co Louth he moved swiftly to have expelled from the party (1997)

    Below is pamphlet that appears as current on the SF web site dated 1998

    Raising awareness

    Our children, drugs, alcohol and solvents.
    Liam Adams
    Price £1
    Evidence of community-based commitment to raising awareness about drug use and misuse comes in this small pamphlet, produced by Dundalk-based Muirhevnamor Community Youth Project.

    Liam Adams, a voluntary youth worker, introduces the reader to the issues linking youth and drugs and describes the commonest drugs available, from alcohol to heroin, and their likely effects.

    Proceeds from the pamphlet go back into the local `Community House’. It can be obtained from MCYP, The House, 29 Grange Drive, Muirhevnamor, Dundalk, County Louth.
    Articles may not be reproduced without the consent of An Phoblacht. For further information, please contact editor@anphoblacht.com

  • cynic

    Is it me or does Gerry look more and more like a Bishop every day?

    Still, if we can put up with 2500 dead perhaps we can cope with a bit of child abuse and rape

  • cynic

    PS isnt it interesting how the SF handling strategy on this evolves:

    1 it was all Liam’s fault (put us on the side of the Angels)

    2 it was all Gerry’s Da’s fault (Gerry’s a victim too – so is Liam – we cant really be held responsible for our actions as the past made us do it)

    3 it is all PSNI’s fault for not stopping him do youth work / having the warrant ready (somebody should have stopped us. We see the hands of the securocrats in all this. We were set up. Honest)

    4 those who question Gerry’s account are splitters / malcontents trying to bring down the process (Its the securocrats again. The man’s a Saint)

    Is this all not the SF equivalent of the Bart Simpson defence

    1 it wasnt me

    2 I wasnt there

    3 it was broke when I got here?

    It all sounds terribly familiar!!! Where have I heard this strategy before?

  • Seamus

    Experts at fixing (covering up by way of scapegoats etc) inside the box.
    Total failures outside the box where the real world works.
    Welcome back SF.

  • Ramzi Nohra

    Seamus, Alias, Pete
    Thanks for your response, which I suppose in retrospect was obvious.

    The point I was trying to make was that Gerry doens work in social services or child protection services. Should it be his job to monitor his brothers employment and call all employers etc, regardless of being an MP?

    I’m not sure if thats what being an MP entails.

    However, maybe taking the view I’ve just outlined lets him off the hook. It certainly seems he could have done more.

  • Seamus

    Seamus, Alias, Pete
    Thanks for your response, which I suppose in retrospect was obvious.

    The point I was trying to make was that Gerry doens work in social services or child protection services. Should it be his job to monitor his brothers employment and call all employers etc, regardless of being an MP?

    I’m not sure if thats what being an MP entails.

    However, maybe taking the view I’ve just outlined lets him off the hook. It certainly seems he could have done more.

    Posted by Ramzi Nohra on Dec 24, 2009 @ 09:40 AM

    As elected by the people of that area he has not only a civic duty but a moral one as well.
    As a civic duty why was he not in contact with the social services and psni to find out how his brother had passed screening proceedures in place to protect children from people like Liam, who gerry has confirmed he believed was a pedophile at that time.
    Was he not concerned that if his brother had evaded the net others would as well, endangering the children he represented.

  • cynic

    “Should it be his job to monitor his brothers employment”

    Ramzi – in the circumstances where the abuse was hidden from the suthorities ….yes

  • Alias

    “The point I was trying to make was that Gerry doens work in social services or child protection services. Should it be his job to monitor his brothers employment and call all employers etc, regardless of being an MP?” – Ramzi Nohra

    Gerry obviously thinks so since he has told the public that he did all of those things. Why would Gerry do all those things and point out that he did all of those things if he didn’t think they were important?