Gerry Adams “had an excellent understanding of how the media works”

Liam Adams appeal against his extradition is continuing in Dublin. Despite a lot of feverish speculation on how the media might have damaged Mr Adams’ chance of a fair trial, it seems it is the words of his brother (which, unlike his later explanations, were almost simultaneously with the UTV Insight Special), the TD for Louth and President of Sinn Fein that forms a core of his assertion that he would not get a fair trial in Northern Ireland.

Mr Adam’s defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC

…quoted from a number of broadcast programmes and newspaper articles, including a Sinn Féin statement where Gerry Adams urged his brother to come forward and “right the wrong that has been done”. Gerry Adams also told the media his father had abused his siblings and said “an injustice had been done” to Áine.

Mr Justice Edwards said these were matters that could be taken up by the trial judge or the jury could be warned. “At the end of the day, you have to persuade me that this is one of the rare cases that requires this court to make a prohibition order.”

Mr O’Higgins said the nature of the publicity was that it was pronounced far and wide that his client was guilty.

He said Gerry Adams, in making his statement, “had an excellent understanding of how the media works.

“He did so knowing it would receive blanket coverage. He knows enough about the law, yet with all that knowledge, he held forth, presumably because he had some competing interest.”

There were people, he added, who had such high regard for people like Gerry Adams it was unlikely they would not believe him. On the other hand, there were people who would hold those from a republican background in such low esteem that they would think that “if even Gerry Adams thinks he’s guilty, he must be”.

If Mr Adams was not, as he claimed at the time, they do appear to be now…

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

  • circles

    Just a comment of style rather than substance – extremely Bakeresque post.

  • More like the Slugger team attempting to divert attention from their repulsive obsession with this story last year and hi ho, the ideal candidate comes along – not like there’s any Gerry Adams obsessives round these parts. :-/

  • Mick Fealty

    Don’t you think it is pass remarkable – especially after all the speculation that the media overstepped the mark in this case – that Mr Adams cites his brother’s comments as the specific reason he feels he won’t get a fair trial in Northern Ireland?

    In my view, what makes it material (as opposed to idle speculation) is that its from his Senior Counsel. Not sure where you were coming from on the ‘style’ thing.

    Ulick, for reference, and those readers who may be tempted to take that assertion of yours at face value, here’s the last 20 mentions of Gerry on Slugger, they go back to May… And, for good measure, the previous twenty taking us back to March…

  • “Don’t you think it is pass remarkable that Mr Adams cites his brother’s comments as the specific reason he feels he won’t get a fair trial in Northern Ireland?”

    I can only imagine the conflict and turmoil going on in that family over this case, so I don’t want to dwell on it, but considering G Adams position and the way in which is brother probably feels he “gave him up”, no I don’t think it remarkable.

    “and those readers who may be tempted to take that assertion of yours at face value, here’s the last 20 mentions of Gerry on Slugger, they go back to May… And, for good measure, the previous twenty taking us back to March…”

    Oh please Mick, it’s been a pretty quite time here politically for the past few months. How about a run back to before the southern election or the previous Christmas to February when this story broke?

  • andnowwhat

    Exactly Ulick.

    I well remember Breen’s scream for attention while we were all having fun at Iris Robinson’s expense.

    This filtered on to here as well as other sites as if the anti SF opportunists lost the run of themselves. There were a sane few who tried to get people to STFU because they knew the ramifications.

    The free exposure in articles of facts predjudices prospective jurors. This is simple, basic. Hell, it was basically all the Murdochs said last week.

    I’m clearly no journo but I’m guessing that this is part of journalism 101. Breen and the UTV journos, should be sacked

  • Mick Fealty

    How about you ref what you mean? When there is a story to cover we generally do it well and thoroughly.

    Dec 09 to Jan 10 would be a good hot period for both Messers Adams and Robinson. What the quiet periods will tell you is that we don’t manufacture stories or memes.

    And while we try to not add relish, I don’t encourage people to pull their punches either.. As for whether we should have ignored a defence that cites a party leaders statement as primary material, I’ll leave that to others.

    Just remember any man playing will be severly dealt with. NB Ms Breen is NOT being cited. So quit the naughty distractions. Please.

  • granni trixie

    Funny enough, when I read the rationale given by Adams lawyer for why Laim Adams ought not to be extradited I did think it remarkable. Also, at the time that GA made the remarks I did think it would lead to this.

    Prone to conspiracy theories (comes from living in NI), its not often I am right but I think i am this time. Remarks such as GA made about his brother dont just happen unless its strategic.

  • andnowwhat
  • Munsterview

    Mick : “….“He did so knowing it would receive blanket coverage. He knows enough about the law, yet with all that knowledge, he held forth, presumably because he had some competing interest.”

    First off since my views are on record on these matters since first coming on this site I may have some authority for my current comments.

    Gerry is a family man and as a prominent part of that extended family he has certain obligations which I will give him the benefit of the doubt of having discharged in the private sphere away from the public glare or publicity.

    However Gerry Adams as President of Sinn Fein is also and firstly in the public sphere he also had a responsibility to speak out publicly.

    Here however a clear dichotomy arise : if Gerry did not speak out forcefully and clearly support the victim then he could be accused of double standards and as one of the most prominent public faces of Sinn Fein, he could easily be accused of pulling his punches because his own brother was involved. Indeed some here in slugger would have led the ‘hue and cry’ on that one !

    On the other hand if Gerry Adams spoke forcefully in support of the victim and that included expressing a belief on her credibility and truthfulness, then he would also come down against his brother and could indeed influence a guilty or innocent verdict at Liam’s trial.

    In short Gerry was dammed if he did not speak out and dammed if he did ! He was on a hiding to nothing from the day that the story broke and in a no win situation.

    The legal defense team of Liam Adams are duty obligated to use every possible means to defend and advance the cause of their client. They have done that and if it is the verdict of the Courts that Liam Adams cannot get a fair trial because of statements by Gerry, then the usual suspects who gleefully seized on the opportunity to embarrass and wrong-foot Gerry with demands for ever stronger condemnations, can then look to the part they played in ensuring that Liam did not stand trial.

    This is a private tragedy playing out in the public sphere, it is by no means the only such story from this sad arena that needs airing in the North and the way political capital against Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein was made in this particular case do not inspire any confidence in any others to come forward with their own stories. He and his family have my personal sympathy in coping with this situation.

    This event or what may yet be a non-event should cause all sincere people careful reflection as to how much information or views should be in the public domain if such indulgent publicity will have the result of frustrating a full and fair trial of the issues. This is not fair to the victims, to the offenders or indeed for the good of society as a whole.

  • andnowwhat

    Simple question: Where certain people more concerned about the alleged victim or anti Gerry Adams/SF point scoring?

  • Munsterview

    Andnow…….. the answer to that is obvious in most instances

  • Intelligence Insider

    andnowwhat,here’s a simpler question; Where certain people more concerned about protecting the image of Gerry Adams/SF than they were about protecting the actual victim of abuse?

  • Mick Fealty


    Was the Guardian trying to bust the Murdoch empire? Maybe it was; maybe it wasn’t. Whatever the case, Murdoch’s difficulties are of his own making, and we, the public are the beneficiaries of such ‘obsessive’ journalism.

    We know a great deal more about the actualité than we did heretofore. Same goes for some of the journalism round this story.

    Given its about child sex abuse and we already have one Irish institution compromised by the way it has chosen to handle similar issues, I think behoves all of us to be a little careful how we handle this.

    What we have seen time and time again is an attempt to shift the focus from the subject to the messengers here. To turn your own question around on you, what are you trying to achieve with such distractions?

    Yet given this was a heavily reported upon story and reams were written, along with some excellent investigative journalism engaged in, wouldn’t you think that with so many alleged axes grinding that someone, somewhere might have cocked up and gone over the edge.

    Yet the one who said the stuff that might spring his brother appears not to have been – as was repeatedly claimed over and over in these comment zones – the press, but G Adams himself.

    Colour me sceptical…


    I agree that Gerry Adams was in a very tight situation. But consider three things:

    – the damaging information was released at the very time of the documentary;

    – Mr Adams’ initial accounts of the nature of his relationship with his ‘estranged’ brother differed dramatically with those given throughout the lifespan of the initial story;

    – and, this where we came in, as his Senior Counsel says, Mr Adams “had an excellent understanding of how the media works”.

    You pays your money and you takes your choice. But don’t you think it odd they’ve gone straight for the brother’s evidence (which, unusually for Gerry went way beyond the bare minimum)?

  • andnowwhat

    Please Don’t get me wrong here Mick. My ire is not, for all but the smallest part, aimed at contributors to Slugger as such, more towards the journalists involved in the print and TV media.

    I am very much against shooting the messenger but what happened a year and a half ago was short sighted opportunism.

    Where I the melodramatic type, I would say that the victim was used.

    Regarding Gerry, the intra familial are very complex and what happened in this case are not untypical. I am surely best not to go in to that but a hint is that the issues are regarding more than one generation of the family.

    As I understand it, in certain states in america, this case would not have been pursued after an inter generational link was established.

    Furthermore, there’s another fact or two2 I am personally aware of that may very well change people’s ideas of Gerry’s part in this. If we had a PM facility on Sl;ugger, I’d send it to you Mick.

    Regarding the Guardian. They have bigger fish to fry than Murdoch and a certain amount of guilt to exorcise with regards to the LDs.. Having said that, will what they printed regarding the Millie Dowler case stop a proesecution case going ahead? No, because they were cautious not to do that.

  • Munsterview

    Mick : “…You pays your money and you takes your choice. But don’t you think it odd they’ve gone straight for the brother’s evidence (which, unusually for Gerry went way beyond the bare minimum)?

    On my way out so a brief response : while this was a private matter for Gerry he was also head of a political party and while it will not be admitted by those concerned in SF, I would be very surprised indeed if party considerations did not get a priority. All of us who have been part of the Republican Movement have been in regular situations where the party came before family.

    This in fact one of the reasons that I am a supporter rather than a signed up member these days, I have a freedom to comment and act as a supporter of Sinn Fein that I would not have as a party member as ‘the party line’ would have to take public priority over my own views. That is the same to a greater or lesser extent in all political parties.

    As a PR exercise the way the whole Liam Adams saga was dealt with was a disaster. By the time Gerry Adams made his definite statement of Victim support only such a statement would have sufficed for the public and even at that media were still calling for more.

    There is a legitimate question here,

    1) did Gerry Adams do as he did as part of a deliberate strategy to void the trial or

    2) was this statement of victim support inevitable collateral damage given that at the stage it was issued, such a strong victim support statement had to be made.

    There will be little objective analysis of this, it will be the usual polemic line up. I do however remember thinking at the time, and this from the perspective of a paralegal well experienced in the workings of the Superior Courts as well as a Sinn Fein supporter, that he had just about done enough in his statement of Victim support to satisfy reasonable critics without making a public Court trial of his brother impossible.

    I can appreciate the SF party requirements and likewise I could see the legal difficulties. As is said there was a dichotomy there, perhaps an unbridgeable one, time will tell.

    There could have been a SF strategy there all along but old Republicans know how much this hit the private Gerry and until otherwise proven I am more inclined to go with blaming what a Seassanach friend of mine would refer to as ‘ The Fuck Up Fairy’ at work. In short this is the way events panned out rather than any grand plan.

  • Mick Fealty


    I do intend for this to be brief, so I’ll forego the opportunity to address the many qualitative issues around this matter.

    All I’ll say is that my primary interest in this snippet was the absence of any reference to the media in any regard.

    We are only half way through an extradition process, which will have to be completed before there is even the possibility of a trial.

    For now the judge in the Dublin High Court though has indicated he doesn’t believe it is a matter for him, but whomsoever would be in charge of the Northern Irish court.

    We’ll have to wait until then to see whether you are right or not MV about Gerry’s intervention leaving enough room to allow case into court.

  • 241934 john brennan

    ‘This is a private tragedy playing out in the public sphere.’
    Alleged rape of a child, even within the family, is not a private matter – but always a matter of public concern – and if proven demands public accountabiliy

  • J Kelly

    Mick this blog really does take the biscuit, if Gerry Adams had a refused UTV an interview, said Liam Adams was innocent until proven guilty or retused to answer questions for legal reasons you and the Irish News would have wrote reams accusing him of cover up. The question to his critics what should have he done?

  • granni trixie

    J Kelly: I genuinely thought that the answer he gave at the time odd and legally ill advised.

    He could surely have found a form of words which satisified the necessity to show that he respected both the victim and his brothers right toi a fair hearing/trial.

    eg “Although shocked at Aines claims, I respect her right to seek justice…let the law take its course”.
    (yeah, I know this isnt great but I dont have the resources of GA to get something better).

  • Limerick

    “I can only imagine the conflict and turmoil going on in that family over this case,”


    Indeed. What best course of action to take in order to prevent a prosecution for instance. I’m sure they agonised over that.

  • Munsterview

    Ulick : “……I can only imagine the conflict and turmoil going on in that family over this case, …”

    Ulick, you should be experienced enough by now that when it comes to point scoring against Republicans nothing is out of bounds and like the ‘News Of The Screws’ purulent sleaze peddlers, there is nothing sacred if it can be used to embarrass Sinn Fein, it’s party people or Republicans generally.

    Since it is a ‘News Of The Screws’ attitude to personal privacy and family tragedy when Republicans are targeted, why do you still expect standards where clearly none exist ?

  • 241934 john brennan

    MU. You still don’t get it. Whether within the Church, a political party, or the family home, the rape, or alleged rape of a child is always a matter for public concern.
    As Archbishop Neary today proclaimed from Croagh Patrick mountain top, the scandal of child sex abuse will only end when every abused person is facilitated in telling their story. Where better to do that than in open court, where the abused and the accused both have an opportunity to state their case – and where the truth can be impartially tested and determined.

    It is worth remembering that ignoring a Northern extradition warrant for Brendan Smyth caused the collapse of Albert Reynolds’s government.

  • Munsterview

    John B…. : Since I do not see any contribution on this article or comment by ‘MU’ I will refrain from comment at this stage as I cannot see the context.

    However if your comments were intended for ‘MV’ then, please elaborate and I will reply later ( could be a day or two as a little time out coming up).

  • oracle

    Ulick, J Kelly, andnow,

    Or for that matter any sick deprave morally bankrupt coward that comes on here to blame the media for having an Adams witch-hunt.

    Some facts you seem to have conveniently forgotten in this case due to your political bias, a bias which has shown time and again from the day this story broke that the protection of Gerry is more important than justice for alleged victims of child rape.

    1) UTV handed over a tape of the program before airing to SF and its senior media advisor from the republic.
    2) Gerry Adams knew about an alleged victim of child rape for five years (think about that, 5 years) and dragged her through meeting after meeting seemingly going nowhere but the same time wasting circle (do you consider that action appropriate in any way shape or form from an ordinary adult? Because the vast majority of human beings on this planet wouldn’t, but from an elected representative and party leader related to alleged victim and perpetrator it is bizarre and inexcusable and no one with a double digit IQ could ever justify it)
    3) Breen and the Tribune went after Adams because they caught him lying time and time again and produced photographic and document evidence to prove him a liar time and time again, they produce documented evidence that the SF leadership were unaware of the events and that Adams had kept them in the dark all along.
    4) During this time the alleged perpetrator was given a job looking after children in Nationalist areas and when the authorities of the groups involved were informed of the alleged incident they ignored those warnings. (would you support that behaviour by the persons involved if the child was related to you or if it was a unionist party involved?)

    Actually I could go on all day but it would just travel in one ear and out the other with no resistance in between so I’ll rest my case with this.

    Will Gerry Adams give permission for the release of his police statement to be used in evidence at the future trial of the alleged perpetrator, I believe it is part of the disclosure for the extradition case so defense counsel would have seen it already, and for this issue to be clarified about the media being manipulated deliberately it would need to be completely and utterly different from what you all would probably imagine.

    Wouldn’t it Gerry.

  • andnowwhat

    Oracle, I refer you to the judgement re Christopher Jeffries and the judges comment that IF Mr Jeerires had been guilty, thanks to the press coverage he received, a successful prosecution would have been unlikely.

    Attacking the press coverage is far from defending Liam Adams. Quite the opposite in fact

  • fordprefect

    I agree with Oracle, the longest standing joke in Ireland is GA’s denial that he was ever in the IRA! Someone said earlier that GA knew about this for five years, I’m afraid it was far longer than that. I don’t believe a word about GA’s da tampering with his own kids (I learned a long, long time ago not to take anything GA said with any great conviction). GA was pictured in Dundalk with his bro canvassing AFTER he said he’d cut all ties with him, he was working with kids in Dundalk and elsewhere AFTER GA said he believed his niece, he was in a SF cumann that met at the bottom of GA’s street and GA said he didn’t know he was in it! Please! I could go on, but I think everyone knows the crack about GA by now.

  • oracle


    Again I must refer you to the fact that (and I’m at pains to point this out to you) all the media coverage did not deal with the issue of the guilt or innocence of the alleged perpetrator.

    The media dealt with the actions and falsehoods of the elected MP for West Belfast, who was and still is the President of Sinn Fein. He was and still is the leader of the Sinn Fein party, a party in Government in the North and seeking a place in government in the South.

    Perhaps you weren’t informed enough about the subject at hand that you were so vigorously commenting on but now the matter has been unequivocally clarified for you you’ll hopefully be better placed to make a more rational and accurate comment on the subject during discussions

  • 241934 john brennan

    MV: The context is truth – or lack of it. And what does truth matter anyway to those whose cause justifies the means?

    The president of Sinn Fein repeatedly asserts republicans never engaged in criminality. He denies ever being a member of the IRA, or illegal organisation. He is sure the Colombia Three were simply good republican eco-tourists. The IRA never did the Northern Bank robbery. Slab Murphy is a ‘good’ republican – as were those wrongly convicted of the murder of Garda McCabe etc. etc.

    So despite the evidence, canonize all these, and all other ‘good’ republicans – and add their names to the republican Roll of Honour.

    However, exceptions prove the rule – and in this case the exceptions are GA’s father and brother who, on the basis of unproven hearsay evidence, the Sinn Fein president says believes engaged in the criminality of child sex abuse – but sure isn’t that just a private ‘family tragedy’?

    “Nothing to see here. Now move along.”