Arrest warrants, judicial process and the presumption of innocence….

First, a thought for the defence. Liam Adams is accused by his daughter of serious sexual assault from a young age. He is further suspected of such by his older brother Gerry. But like anyone else, he must be presumed innocent until such times as he is conclusively proven guilty.

It may be that he deliberately crossed the border to surrender to the Guards because of a residual distrust of the PSNI. In fact it should also be noted in mitigation of the Adams family’s behaviour that it is only in the last 15 to 20 years that the police have developed the resources to deal with what was widely known in policing circles at the time of the alleged abuse ‘a domestic’…

The received wisdom within the RUC (and most other forces) at the time the alleged abuse was taking place was, ‘stay out of it and keep your distance’… To that extent, whilst the Adams story may read implausibly to a contemporary audience there is a legitimate historic context to this story (ie, that families dealt with such problems privately) which should not be forgotten.Second, the Sinn Fein press office was furious last night that at Liam Adams presentation to the Guards in Sligo a European arrest warrant had not already been issued. The PSNI say that would take weeks to assemble, although both the UK and Ireland are signed up to the electronic Schengen Alerts system that presumably (meaning, I am not exactly sure) would have given the Guards a means to detain Liam Adams immediately.

That suggests that the PSNI had not actually intended to arrest Mr Adams in any case. In fact it is not clear what the usual protocol for dealing with the kind of accusation put into the public domain by Liam Adams last Friday evening. Or whether indeed the police actually have a protocol as such. I think we might presume that until last Friday evening the case was less than top priority.

And in the terms in which the details of this story is unfolding, what, if anything (except the public controversy), has changed since then?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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