A brother of former IRA leader Brendan Hughes has said his family are angry at suggestions by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams that he was mentally ill when he gave interviews about his past.
Terry Hughes said the family rejected any implication that the hunger striker, who died in 2008, was not lucid when he revealed details of his life in the IRA, now published in the book ‘Voices from the Grave’.
Mr Adams has said the west Belfast man “wasn’t well” and was “very vulnerable” when he accused him of hiding his IRA past during interviews for a conflict archive at Boston College.
Terry Hughes said he was in Cuba with his brother in 2005 and he was “perfectly fine then and was talking politics and history with the locals”.
“Now that was a few years alter he gave these interviews, so to say he was mentally unwell is a nonsense,” Mr Hughes said.
“I’ve started reading the book. Its hard because the stuff about our early childhood is very personal and I’ve broke down a few times to be honest and had to stop.
“But it’s spot on. His memory was obviously much better than most people’s.”
Mr Hughes said Mr Adams was a leader of the Belfast IRA for a period in the early 1970s.
Responding to the claims, the Sinn Fein president said: “[Brendan Hughes] wasn’t well and hadn’t been for a very long time, including during the time he did these interviews. He also carried with him an enormous sense of guilt over events surrounding the first hunger strike.
“This made him very vulnerable even before his health deteriorated.
“I reject absolutely any accusation that I had any hand or part in the killing and disappearing of Jean McConville or in any of the other allegations that are being promoted by Ed Moloney (author of Voices from the Grave).”
Mr Adams added: “I reject any suggestion by Ed Moloney, or anyone else for that matter,that I have ever sought to distance myself or to disassociate myself from the IRA.”
Mr Hughes challenged the Sinn Fein leader to explain his reference to his brother’s health, insisting that while he was physically unwell at the end of his life his memory was still very vivid.
“I can’t honestly comment on the things that went on between Brendan and Gerry Adams but I can comment on Brenden’s state of mental health,” he said.
“He had problems and did suffer from depression. He was very open about that. He always felt by speaking about it he could help other ex-prisoners.
“But it didn’t affect his recall and, as many of his former comrades could testify, our brother was a man of integrity, not known for telling lies.”
The DUP leader Peter Robinson called on Mr Adams to “confess”.
The First Minister said: “I’m just surprised that people would be surprised. None of us have been in the group that believed Gerry Adams wasn’t in the IRA and hadn’t been involved in the IRA.
“But I think that there is a requirement on him to ‘fess up, if you like, to admit his past and to apologise for his past.
“I think on that basis, where there is a clear expression of regret for what has happened and people are prepared to admit their failures of the past, you can move on.
“It is no good trying to tell people that you weren’t involved when the world and his brother knows that you were.”
In television interviews yesterday, Mr Adams again rejected the various allegations.
“My position on this is very, very clear,” he said.
“I have said my piece and I am not going to feed this story and respond to these type of untruthful and very, very vicious and malicious allegations,” said Mr Adams.