Sinn Féin has lashed out at what it said were attempts to use the conviction and sentencing of Liam Adams, brother of Gerry Adams, to smear its party leader.
Liam Adams was given a 16-year jail term this week for raping and abusing his daughter Aine, beginning when she was just four years old, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The trial heard that her attempts to raise the matter with the then RUC police were met with an attempt by the RUC to recruit her as an informer against her uncle.
Gerry Adams has also been accused of failing to bring the matter to the attention of the RUC. But in an extraordinary intervention into the matter on Wednesday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin compared Sinn Féin’s handling of internal sex abuse cases to that of the Catholic Church.
He also claimed that Gerry Adams was aware of two other criminal matters which had been dealt with internally by republicans. “From information we have picked up, and we have talked to other people, this may have been a broader trend in the republican movement,” he said.
“Just like the [Catholic] Church, the republican movement saw the institution of the republican movement as more important than individual victims.”
The Fianna Fáil leader declined to elaborate on the two cases. Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald described the remarks as disgraceful and totally untrue.
“The question needs to be asked of Deputy Martin as to when he received this information and has he passed it on to gardai?” she said.
“Or is the reality that Deputy Martin will seek to use any issue, no matter how difficult for those directly involved, to try and score cheap political points?”
Mr Adams has endured a difficult time in recent weeks, condemned by almost all of the establishment media, as well as by some republicans, for not doing more to bring his brother to justice or to admit a past role in the Provisional IRA.
In a tweet on Wednesday night, the Sinn Féin leader accused Mr Martin of being “completely out of order” and of reaching a “new low” in the controversy.
And in a subsequent statement, Mary Lou McDonald said the Fianna Fáil leader had attempting to smear Mr Adams. She said he had testified at length at his brother’s trial, and answered “all of the questions” put to him on the matter.
Ms McDonald told RTE state radio that Mr Martin was “cynically and very, very deliberately” using the trial of his brother to attack Mr Adams, but was also causing considerable distress to his wider family.
She urged the media and Sinn Féin’s opponents to give a respectful space to the family to allow them to come to terms with everything that has unfolded.