Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

McGuinness questions motives behind Adams stories

Martin McGuinness at Stormont
Martin McGuinness said some people wanted to undermine Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein leader

Martin McGuinness has accused people of using allegations against Gerry Adams' brother to undermine the Sinn Fein leader's political position.

Liam Adams is wanted by the PSNI over claims he sexually abused his daughter.

It has emerged he held a number of positions in Sinn Fein after party leader Gerry Adams became aware of the allegations.

Mr McGuinness said some reports on the issue had been "absolutely disgusting and highly provocative".

"Quite clearly people are using it to affect Gerry Adams' leadership of Sinn Fein," Mr McGuinness said.

"I think that Gerry Adams has made a massive contribution to what is clearly now one of the most important peace processes in the world today.

"I think those who try to attack him on an issue that has enormous ramifications for his siblings and his family do a grave injustice to the whole aspect of truth which is vital and key and central in all of this."

Mr McGuinness said he had only become aware of the allegations against Liam Adams at the end of last year.

'Forced from party'

Liam Adams was forced from the party in County Louth in 1997, but it has emerged he held a number of positions elsewhere after 2000.

Last week, Gerry Adams defended himself after it emerged his brother was in a Sinn Fein branch in west Belfast three years after he told him to quit.

"I got my brother Liam to leave Sinn Fein in County Louth. He later, unbeknownst to me, rejoined the party in west Belfast," the West Belfast MP said.

"Had I known that that was the case, I obviously would have went to get him to leave the party again."

Mr Adams said that he did not know every Sinn Fein member in west Belfast.

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

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

Mr Adams has said 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.

Sinn Fein has said 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 and the local organisation was unaware of any allegations against him.

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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