The following is the transcript of a broadcast interview with Sinn Fein President by RTE’s Tommie Gorman.
TG: Gerry Adams, there is every probability that your brother Liam may be listening to this interview. What would you like to say to him?
GA: I would appeal to him on behalf or my entire family... to hand himself over to the police. He has my phone number. He has the phone numbers or other family members.
If he feels isolated or feels that he cannot do this, we will go and get him and we will bring him to the PSNI.
Aine needs justice. This has gone on for far too long and the only way now that she can get justice is through the courts. TG: You have lived with the knowledge or these alleged crimes committed by your brother for 22 years. How difficult lor you was it dealing with that knowledge? GA: Well it went on for far too long and it was Llam’s fault that it went on for too long and, more important than me,Aine and her mother had to deal with all of this.
But in the course of trying to deal with it, I discovered that my father was an abuser.I was almost 50 years old and up to that point Ithought we were like any other family with a loving father and so on, and it was a deep shock.
And I don’t want to distract for one second from Aine’s plight. I have felt for some long time that we should go public about my father as part or the healing process for my own family and also to try and help other families in the same predicament.
We brought the family together we are a large family - to ensure that nobody was in danger, that these were historic crimes, that this was abuse that happened in the past.
We got professional help. Those who were abused didn’t want to go to the police about it so in a very difficult way, with everybody coming at this at different speeds and everybody coming at it from a slightly different perspective, we have, with the assistance of professionals, with the assistance of other family members and friends, we have been able to survive it.
TG: How did you learn that your father was an abuser?
GA: Well I don’t want to name anybody who was abused but in the course of dealing with the issue of Aine and the injustice done to her, a family member told me that they have been abused and I immedletely brought all my siblings together and we tried to deal with it as a collective.
And then I spoke to my father, I confronted him about it and right up until his death, I talked to him about it.
TG: Did he admit it?
GA: He was in denial for quite a lot of that time. It’s very difficult to describe precisely how he was. This was a man who had a very very large family. There were 13 of us, 10 who survived and three who died at birth or shortly after.
He ended up dying a very very lonely old man who should have been surrounded by loving family members.
TG: But your father, he was given a republican funeral. There was a tricolour on his coffin.
GA: Well personally that was one of the great dilemmas for me because I am a republican. I am speaking here as just as a human being and as a family member.
I didn’t want him buried with a tricolour. I think he besmirched it but it was a dilemma for other members of my family who felt that they didn’t want this, at that time, out in the open.
If he not been buried as a former republican activist in the thirties and as a former prisoner, that would have drawn attention that there was something wrong. So you have to look after the living as opposed to the dead.
I also always had a view that this was going to come out at some time.
TG: The nature of the abuse by your father, what was it?
GA: It was physical, it was psychological. It was emotional and it was sexual.
And for me, one of the big questions is, why I didn’t notice it.
TG: Brothers? Sisters?
GA: Well Idon’t want to deal with the detail but clearly it was with my siblings, without getting into the details.
TG: Was your brother who is accused of sexual abuse, was he one of the victims?
GA: I don’t want to deal with that question. One of the lessons you learn with this is that you do not name an abused person. It’s up to that person themselves to deal with that issue as they see it.
TG: Were you yourself abused?
GA: I have no recollection of being abused. I have pondered on this. I have brought myself back to the family home where the abuse took place. I have tried to come back to childhood, back to bedrooms, back to other places that I know the abuse took place and I can’t find any recollection of being personally abused.
TG: Were you tempted to go to the police about him because he had, after all, committed a crime?
GA: We discussed that. But it was one of those dilemmas that if a child was being abused by my father I would have had no hesitation in going immediately to the police, none whatsoever.
But we were dealing with historic crimes. The victims were now adults and they didn’t want to go to the police. So it wasn’t up to me to be dictating that to them.
TG: Was this a huge shock to you?
GA: Well it was a hugeshock, it was... my family have suffered bereavement of young people. My two nephews Liam and Michael were killed in a car accident. Another nephew, also a Liam, died suddenly. Knowledge of abuse by someone with your family or someone else within your family is a permanent bereavement.
TG: How about your responsibility as a public figure? Should you not have gone to the authorities?
GA: Well,first of all,one of our family members, as soon as we heard this, accompanied Aine and her motherto the social services.A complaint was made to the RUC. Aine was a minor and that complaint should have been pursued. There is no logic as to why that wasn’t pursued at that time.
TG: But I’m talking about you, as a public person, as the leader of a party. Your brother continued to be a member of Sinn Fein.
GA: Well my brother moved out of my life, moved out of all of our lives when he went abroad for a while and then he came back and although I saw him occasionally during that period of maybe 15 years, when I learned he was a member of Sinn Fein it was I who moved to get him dumped out of Sinn Fein.
When I heard that he was working in youth facilities, again I pressed him to leave and with one of the facilities I actually reported it to the authorities which were responsible for that facility.
TG: How big an issue has it been?
GA: It’s a huge issue. It’s probably the single most important issue in my life and as someone who lives a very busy life and who deals with all sorts of dilemmas ... this is a huge, huge issue.