Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Sinn Fein detail Liam Adams role amid sex abuse claims

Liam Adams
The Sinn Fein president's brother Liam Adams is facing sex abuse allegations

Liam Adams was still involved in Sinn Fein more than three years after his brother, party leader Gerry Adams, said he had expelled him, it has emerged.

Liam Adams is facing allegations that he abused his own daughter.

He was said to have left the party in 1997, but Sinn Fein have now said Liam Adams held a number of positions in west Belfast after 2000.

SF's Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Adams did not tell the party about the allegations to protect his niece.

"Gerry Adams made a judgement in the best interests of the victim, in a bid to protect the anonymity and dignity of the victim, not to share the information of that allegation and I think, in the interest of the victim, that was the correct thing to do," the party's vice-president said.

However, Suzanne Breen, the northern editor of the Sunday Tribune newspaper, said Mr Adams had broken his own party's rules.

"He could have said there were allegations against his brother, Liam," she said.

"Gerry Adams, by not doing so, has actually broken Sinn Fein's constitution which states when a member becomes aware of sexual allegations against another member they are bound to inform Sinn Fein's Ard Comhairle (party executive), Gerry Adams failed to do that."

Gerry Adams said he only found out on Thursday that his brother had re-involved himself with the party.

Incomplete documentation

The West Belfast MP added that had he known about the move he would have acted to have his brother leave the party for a second time.

The Sinn Fein president, who has been under pressure to explain Liam Adam's role in the party since the allegations arose, insisted that there had been "no cover up" by either him or Sinn Fein.

Sinn Féin did not know of the allegations against Liam Adams and did nothing wrong. There was no cover-up by Sinn Féin. It is a matter of sincere regret that my colleagues have been the target of unfair and unjustifiable criticism by political opponents.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

In a statement on Friday, Sinn Fein said that in the aftermath of the revelations it had held discussions and reviewed its available documentation in a bid to establish the extent of Liam Adams' involvement in the party.

It said the process had taken a number of weeks but added that information from a period in the 1990s was "not complete".

"We have established that Louth Sinn Fein and the national party leadership, apart from Gerry Adams, was unaware of the allegation against Liam Adams," the statement said.

Mr Adams has previously confirmed that he found out in 1987 about allegations made by his niece that she had been sexually abused by Liam Adams while she was a young child.

Gerry Adams did not tell the Sinn Fein leadership or Louth branch about the abuse allegations when he moved to expel his brother from the party in 1997
For a number of years after 2000, Liam Adams was involved "localised party work" in Belfast
He held a number of positions in a Sinn Fein branch in Andersonstown
He became chair of the Lower Andersonstown branch for a short while

The Sinn Fein president said that he "moved" to expel Liam Adams from the party 10 years later, when he found out that his brother was seeking to run as a Sinn Fein candidate in the Irish parliamentary elections.

Party 'not involved'

In Friday's statement, Sinn Fein also confirmed that Liam Adams served as chair of the party's Louth district executive for two and a half months in 1996.

In addition they said he held the position of secretary for one month before this time. He was also nominated as education officer but he did not take up this position.

Sinn Fein said that when their president "moved to ensure that Liam Adams did not go forward as a candidate" in 1997, he did so "without involving the party locally or nationally".

"After this time Liam Adams continued to mix in republican circles and attend some republican events," the party added.

It explained that for a number of years starting in 2000, Liam Adams had "involved himself in localised party work in Belfast".

During this period he became chair of a Sinn Fein branch in the heart of his brother's west Belfast constituency.

Unaware of allegation

As well as chair, the party confirmed that Liam Adams held "a number of positions" in the lower Andersonstown branch before it dissolved but said he did not re-apply to join Sinn Fein "as would be required by party procedures".

"The local organisation was unaware of the allegation against Liam Adams and the circumstances of his departure from Sinn Féin in Louth. Clearly his admission to the party in Belfast should have been avoided," the statement said.

When the allegations about Liam Adams first appeared in in UTV documentary late last year, Arthur Morgan, a Sinn Fein member of the Irish parliament for Louth, said Mr Adams had never been a party officer.

This week Mr Morgan said Mr Adams true role had "slipped his mind".

During the years 1998 to 2006, Liam Adams held various positions as a youth worker in a number of organisations in west Belfast.

Last month, he handed himself in to Irish police in the Republic of Ireland but they could not detain him because they did not have the necessary European arrest warrant.

The warrant is expected to be ready this month.

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