The focus now is on Gerry Adams’s survival

When a journalist in a newspaper labels a leading politician as a liar and produces what ‘s claimed to be a smoking gun so to speak, we know that it’s game on for the highest stakes. Suzanne Breen and the Sunday Tribune are hardly risk averse. They come to the Adams scandal buoyed up with a clear victory over the government over their refusal to disclose the source of the Real IRA claim for the Massareene murders. Recognising the significance of a story which significantly adds to the pressure on Gerry Adams, the BBC cautiously covers the Sunday Tribune’s publication of a photograph of

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams canvassing with his brother Liam for the party in Dundalk in 1997, at a time when Gerry Adams has said his brother Liam had been expelled from Sinn Fein.

In a comment piece, Northern editor Suzanne Breen claims:

“Today, we expose this as a lie. Far from having Liam “dumped” from the party, Gerry Adams accompanied his suspected paedophile brother on a Sinn Féin canvass through Dundalk town centre just days before the 6 June election. The Sunday Tribune has uncovered photographs and a newspaper report of the event. The brothers are seen laughing on the canvass – more proof that they were not “estranged”.

The BBC report includes a partial rebuttal:

A Sinn Fein spokesman said it saw no conflict with the Sunday Tribune’s claims and Mr Adams’ previous comments on meetings with his brother. “Gerry Adams has made it clear that he did see his brother on occasions in the 1990s and made it clear when he discovered he was a member of the party in the Dundalk area he moved to have him expelled in the late 1990s,” a Sinn Fein spokesman added.

While expulsion in the late 1990s is technically not incompatible with Gerry Adams smilingly canvassing for Liam as late as 1997 according to the Tribune’s evidence, it lacks conviction.

Breen goes on

Gerry Adams’ disturbingly inadequate response to his brother’s suspected abuse makes him politically toxic. He is stripped of all credibility and moral authority. His position as a public figure is untenable. Were he the leader of any other party, he would have resigned by now. Would Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, Peter Robinson or Mark Durkan survive such damning revelations? Not a chance.

In the Sunday Times, Liam Clarke covers similar territory adding that Adam’s meetings with Aine were –

the same approach of endless but unproductive meetings which republicans often use when people complain against those close to them. The families of many of those killed and secretly buried by the IRA were subjected to the same treatment, as were the family of Robert McCartney, the man stabbed by IRA members in 2005.

Clarke concludes

A politician who has this much explaining to do is a liability to everyone associated with him.

We now wait to see if Gerry Adams produces a new defence or enjoys more lenient treatment from Sinn Fein than former auxiliary bishops in the Dublin archdiocese are at last receiving at the hands of the Irish Church. Is there a Sinn Fein equivalent of Diarmuid Martin? The constrast with the Church’s actions however belated, is now blatant and must be causing mental turmoil for those who are able to reconcile strong support for Sinn Fein with devotion to the Church. This is now a crisis which even this most enclosed of political movements cannot leave to piecemeal statements from a spokesman. Despite the tsuami of schadenfreude rising up from its enemies, Sinn Fein cannot dismiss this as a purely politically motivated attack.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

Living History 1968-74

A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.

Live interviews with: Bernadette McAliskey, Austin Currie, Brid Rogers, Baroness Blood, Dennis Bradley, Baroness Paisley, Lord Kilclooney, Tim McGarry, Danny Morrison, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and others…

Find out more…