Elements in the mainstream media have urged Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to resign following the conviction this week of his brother, Liam, for the sexual abuse of his daughter Aine in the period 1977-1983.
Mr Adams said yesterday there was “a lot of disinformation being flung about” about his Fáilure to prevent his child abuser brother from working with young people in his own constituency.
“Police were aware over 20 years ago,” he said in Dublin, after being asked why he did not report to the then RUC police for nine years that his brother Liam had confessed an incident of abuse to him.
Speaking to reporters outside the Dublin parliament, Mr Adams said the scandal had been and continued to be a “huge ordeal... especially for Aine, but for all members of my family, and I think people need to be given the space to come to terms with all of that.
“And if it was your family, you would want the same respect and space and privacy on these matters.”
Aine Adams with her mother Sarah first went to the RUC with the sexual abuse allegations early in 1987, but three weeks later she was forced to withdraw the claims because the RUC ‘expressed more interest’ in Gerry Adams’s activities than in the abuse.
She told the court that in 1987 she travelled to Buncrana, County Donegal, with her mother and Mr Adams to confront her father, who had remarried, was living there at the time.
When Mr Adams confronted her father about the claims, he denied them, she said.
Mr Adams has been strongly criticised in both the print and broadcast media in Ireland for Fáiling to do more on behalf of his niece. He was also challenged on a claim to have had no contact with his brother subsequent to the allegations, a claim which appeared to be contradicted by a photograph of the two man canvassing together in Dundalk.
Although no allegations have been made that Liam abused any other children, Mr Adams was also criticised for not preventing his brother from working with youth groups in Dundalk and Belfast.
The Belfast Telegraph newspaper this week declared that Mr Adams is “unfit for office”, claiming that he “covered up” the abuse for 20 years.
His political rivals made less of an issue of the matter. DUP leader Peter Robinson said he was “not going to make an issue as horrendous as this into a party-political issue”.
“It is sad that she had to wait 20 years in order to see justice done,” he said.
“But at the end of the day it is up to the authorities to determine whether there are people that could have and should have brought information to them.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that although he did not want to comment on the “personal circumstances” of the case, such information should be passed to the authorities.
“The issue of paedophilia is something that is of such sensitivity and importance that where information about these things is known that it should be made known to the authorities at once,” he said.
A survivor of institutional child abuse, councillor Mannix Flynn, said that as a public figure Gerry Adams should enter a period of “deep reflection” on his past inaction and his future response.
Speaking outside the court in Belfast following the guilty verdict on Tuesday, Aine Adams said she did not see the verdict “as a victory, nor a celebration, as it has taken its toll and has caused hurt, heartache and anguish for all those involved.
“I can now begin my life at 40 and lay to rest the memory of the five-year-old girl who was abused,” she said.
“I would like to give all my family a special thanks, who without their support, love and understanding I would not be here today.
Appealing for privacy “to reflect and heal from recent trying times”, Aine said her family would release a statement in due course.