From top: Mural in West Belfast; Liam Adams (top); Gerry Adams and his late father
As Gerry Adams rose through the Republican ranks in West Belfast his father and brother were molesting and raping children.
How did the Sinn Féin President deal with revelations of abuse within his own family while suspected paedophiles were being executed at the orders of the Army Council?
Warning: contains inappropriate tweeting.
1942: Gerry Adams Senior jailed for 8 years for shooting policeman. On release from prison, he goes on to found the Felons’ Club, a political centre on the Falls Road in West Belfast, which serves as a social centre for ex-prisoners throughout the Troubles. In 1948 his eldest son, Gerry Junior (“Gerry Adams”) is born, followed by a number of other children, including another son, Liam Adams.
1964: Gerry Adams joins Sinn Fein. Maria Cahill, granddaughter of Frank Cahill, brother of leading Sinn Fein member and subsequent IRA Chief of Staff Joe Cahill, is reported in the Irish Independent, 20 October 2014, as stating that her grandfather recruited Gerry Adams into the IRA.
1970-76: Liam Adams is IRA commanding officer in the Maze Prison. He marries Sally Corrigan and their daughter Aine is born. According to a source quoted in The Daily Mirror on October 20, 2014, during this period Joe Cahill was photographed abusing a 14-year-old girl in his car and the photographs subsequently used to ‘turn’ him into a double agent. The Daily Mail, of April 19, 2014, also states that during this period, “Sinn Fein figures” were patrons of the Elm Guest House, a celebrity paedophile brothel in London.
1977: Liam Adams commits his first sexual offence against his daughter Aine, then aged 4. The abuse continues for the next seven years, while Liam and Sally are together and (following their separation in 1982) during periods of parental access.
1980: 100 Republican women protest outside the home of Sinn Fein politician and IRA man Martin Meehan against the abuse by his wife, Briege Meehan, of her stepdaughter, Mary Meehan, during his imprisonment.
1983: Gerry Adams elected as West Belfast MP and President of Sinn Fein.
1984: Liam Adams smuggled out of Northern Ireland to America, for unidentified reasons, where he stays for 8 months, initially living with priest Patrick Moloney.
1985: Liam Adams moves back to Dundalk, in the Republic of Ireland, where he subsequently works with Cox’s Demesne Youth and Community Project.
1986: Liam Adams’ daughter Aine, now aged 14, informs her mother Sally of the sexual abuse and rape perpetuated by her father. Sally informs the Adams family, including Gerry Adams, who meets with Aine.
1987: Sally takes Aine to Grosvenor Road RUC Station, where she reports the abuse. Under pressure, Aine does not press ahead with the case because of Republican distrust of the RUC. Sunday Life, December 20, 2009, quotes an ex-intelligence agent as stating that subsequently the RUC used its knowledge of the allegations to turn Liam Adams into a double agent.
1995: Gerry Adams tells Sinn Fein supporters in North Belfast that they should not report incidents such as child and drug abuse to the RUC.
1996: Liam Adams, now the most senior Sinn Fein party official in Louth, seeks nomination to run for Sinn Fein in the 1997 election. He subsequently withdraws his nomination, allegedly at the behest of his brother Gerry, and, according to Gerry Adams, leaves the party at this point. The same year, Gerry Adams’ autobiography ‘Before the Dawn’, in which he refers to Liam ‘affectionately’ as ‘our Liam’, and thanks him for his help, is published.
1997: Gerry and Liam Adams pictured talking and laughing together on a Sinn Fein canvass in Dundalk. The same year, Liam Adams chairs 40th anniversary commemoration at Edentubber for five IRA men killed in the Border campaign and introduces as the main speaker Sinn Fein National Chairman Mitchel McLoughlin.
1997-1998: Sexual abuse of a number of family members by Gerry Adams Senior is disclosed to Gerry Adams, who has ‘no previous recollection’ of the abuse.
1998: Liam Adams warns the media about a child abuse ring in Dundalk and Donegal.
1999: Liam Adams commences part-time work for a youth project in lonard Monastery in Gerry Adams’ Belfast constituency.
2000: 17-year-old West Belfast teenager claims in the Belfast News Letter, September 12, 2000, to have been shot by the IRA after having spoken out about being abused by a senior member of the organisation. This individual, an close friend of a prominent IRA chief, was allegedly allowed to escape to Donegal after admitting offences against young girls in the course of an IRA interrogation. Sinn Fein denies that this person was ever a member of the party and states that it knows nothing about the claims. The same year, Liam Adams confesses the sexual abuse of Aine to his brother Gerry Adams during a ‘walk in the rain’ in County Louth.
2001: The same year, Breige Meehan is elected Sinn Fein councillor for Newtownabbey.
2002: Speaking in relation to Catholic Church sex abuse, Gerry Adams states that the State “has to ensure that no institution in our community is immune from civic accountability”. The same year, a series of meetings commence between Gerry Adams, Aine and Sally regarding Aine’s allegations against Liam.
2003: Death of Gerry Adams Senior, who receives a full Republican funeral. Liam Adams ceases to work at Clonard. Statutory rapist Wally Bowens, having left Ireland with his 14- year old pregnant girlfriend, is reported by the People, August 3rd, 2003 to be posing as ‘Gerry Adams’ brother in law’.
2004: Liam Adams employed as a youth development worker in Beechmount Community Project, Belfast, also in Adams’ West Belfast constituency.
2005: Liam Adams interviewed several times by local Belfast newspapers, which describe him as a Beechmount community worker. Gerry Adams also visits Beechmount to unveil a mural. Meanwhile, meetings continue between Gerry Adams and Aine and her mother. According to Gerry, Liam is too stressed to participate. The meetings take place off the Falls Road, not far from Beechmount.
In the same year, according to Republican sources quoted in the Belfast Telegraph of October 20, 2013, Gerry Adams, along with three other senior Sinn Fein figures, chairs an internal republican inquiry into allegations of sex abuse by more than 100 IRA members, including a well-known Sinn Fein figure from the Republic who allegedly abused a 13-year-old girl. The sources state that complaints heard include the rape of a 12-year-old boy by a Belfast IRA man in a Republican safe house and the grooming and abuse by a senior IRA man of a 12-year-old girl.
2006: Aine goes to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (the PSNI) to have the case against Liam reopened. Gerry Adams, according to him for the first time, discovers Liam is working at Beechmount and asks him to leave, which he does.
2007: Liam Adams questioned by police about the sexual abuse of Aine.
2008: According to Aine, Aidan Troy, Holy Cross Parish Priest in North Belfast, visits her during this period and warns her to stay away from the police since to involve them would provoke a ‘media circus’ for Gerry Adams. Fr Troy admits meeting Aine to broker a meeting with her father, but denies that he warned her to stay away from the police.
2009: Briege Meehan, interviewed by the PSNI about the abuse of Mary Meehan in the 1970s, is suspended by Sinn Fein from her position as councillor. In November, Liam Adams fails to turn up to court to be charged with 23 counts of sexual abuse against Aine, and subsequently goes missing. A warrant is issued for his arrest, however the warrant is valid within the U.K. only and is not a European Arrest Warrant, despite Liam having lived south of the border for many years.
In December, Aine waives her anonymnity and participates in a UTV Insight programme dealing with the allegations against Liam Adams. Gerry Adams, also participating in the programme, admits that Liam is wanted for sexual offences against Aine and urges him to hand himself over. Two days before Christmas, Liam Adams hands himself in at Sligo Garda Station, however the warrant for his arrest is found to have no effect in the Republic of Ireland and he is released. The PSNI commences proceedings to obtain a European Arrest Warrant. Adams’ solicitor announces that he is not going to surrender himself to the PSNI due to concerns regarding a fair trial.
In an RTE interview two days after the documentary, Gerry Adams reveals that Gerry Adams Senior sexually abused a number of children in his family. Asked about his father’s Republican funeral, he states that he had not wanted him buried with the tricolor but that his family did not want the abuse publicized. Adams also states that he had tried to get his brother expelled from Sinn Fein, and that he had warned the youth centres where Liam was working about the allegations of abuse, prompting a response from the centres in question that they had no record of any such warning. He also states that he had no knowledge of Liam’s involvement with Sinn Fein after 1997.
Sinn Fein, after initially stating that Liam Adams was a member of the party for a number of years in the 1990s, subsequently admits that for some years from 2000 he was also involved in local party work in Belfast and held the position of chairman of a party branch in Andersonstown, close to Gerry Adams’ home. Sinn Fein also states that they were unaware at all times of the allegations against Liam Adams. Sinn Fein also restates Adams’ 1995 comments on the non-reporting of child sexual abuse as follows:
“Sinn Féin’ s procedure in relation to dealing with allegations of child abuse is that the issue be brought immediately to the attention of the statutory agencies with responsibility for dealing with it social services and the police. Gerry Adams was central in developing this policy in the 1990s… Before formal policy was in place when dealing with issues of sexual abuse, Gerry Adams advised families affected to go to the RUC if that was their personal choice or for people who had no confidence in the RUC to go immediately to the social services. The use of social services by families affected by child abuse was not as an alternative to the RUC but rather an avenue into them and the criminal justice system and offered another layer of protection for victims and their families when dealing with the RUC, who in the past tried to use such cases for their own ends. In his 1995 comments, Gerry Adams did not call on people not to report sexual abuse. Gerry Adams consistently urged people dealing with cases of sexual abuse, who had genuine and justifiable concerns about the RUC, to go to the properly trained professionals available within the social services network.”
2010: In January, Mary Meehan’s allegations against Breige Meehan become public. Sinn Fein threatens to sue the Sunday Tribune in response to its claim that Sinn Fein figures, though aware of the allegations for many years, did not expel Breige Meehan (as they were allegedly required to do by their Constitution) or alert the authorities.
The same month, Mairia Cahill, grand-niece of Joe Cahill, alleges that she was repeatedly raped when 16 by a prominent IRA member, with her story being heard and dismissed by a Sinn Fein ‘kangaroo’ court and the abuser being subsequently moved to Donegal. Mairia also states that Gerry Adams was aware of the allegations and failed to take action.
Gerry Adams issues a statement denying the allegations and accusations against him and denying any culture of concealment with the Republican movement. Aine denies a number of statements previously made by Gerry Adams, including that a member of the Adams family went with her to social services. She also says that when she met with Gerry, he told her that Liam’s subsequent community work was a way of making up for what he had done to her. After consideration, the PSNI advises the RUC not to investigate Gerry Adams for withholding information regarding the sexual abuse of Aine.
In response to queries regarding a photograph of Liam and Gerry Adams canvassing together in Dundalk in 1997, Sinn Fein states that Gerry Adams could not prevent his brother joining a canvass in which he was participating and that those who alleged contact between the Adams brothers during Liam’s stay in Dundalk are dissidents motivated by antagonism against the Sinn Fein leader.
In March, a European Arrest Warrant for Liam Adams issues and Adams hands himself in in Dublin. Following his subsequent release on 15,000 Euros bail, Sinn Fein expresses the view that the arrest should have happened earlier. Adams’ legal team contests his extradition to Northern Ireland. The same month, Martin McGuinness strongly criticizes Cardinal Brady for taking part in a Church tribunal in which victims of abuse were sworn to secrecy. In response, Eileen Kelly, a worker in the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre for 20 years, tells the Sunday Times that the Sinn Fein and IRA attitude to sexual crimes is little better than the Church.
2011: Breige Meehan is charged with four counts of indecency, one of attempt gross indecency, two of indecent assault and one of child cruelty against Mary Meehan between 14 July 1979 and 31 Oct 1980. She pleads not guilty. Gerry Adams is elected to the Dail. Liam Adams is extradited to Northern Ireland.
2012: Martin McGuinness says that the Vatican has failed victims of clerical sex abuse.
2013: In February, Gerry Adams opens a twitter account @GerryAdamsSF in which he details his adventures with his bear called Ted and his collection of yellow rubber ducks. Sinn Fein confirms that the twitter account is genuine, stating that “[t]his is a little glimpse of him personally.” The account soon amasses 11,000 followers.
In April, the trial of Liam Adams commences. Gerry Adams, a witness for the prosecution, tells the court, under oath, of Liam’s initial confession to him in 2000. He also states that he did not tell the police of this confession until 2009. The trial subsequently collapses due to unrelated legal issues and a further trial takes place in September. This time, the prosecution does not call Gerry Adams as a witness. Liam Adams is found guilty of the sexual abuse and rape of Aine and sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment.
The Northern Ireland DPP, Barra McGrory, asks for an independent review of the 2011 PSNI decision not to prosecute Gerry Adams for withholding information (a separate review into the same issue is being carried out by the Police Ombudsman). Gerry Adams subsequently confirms that Barra McGrory was his solicitor in 2007, during the time period when it is claimed the abuse should have been reported. When asked if he was concerned about the review, Adams says he generally ‘goes with the flow’. Adams subsequently alleges trial by media in response to an editorial by the Belfast Telegraph questioning his fitness to hold public office.
In June Breige Meehan pleads guilty to child cruelty and assault in relation to Mary Meehan. The seven additional sexual abuse charges against her in relation to Mary are left on books and not proceeded with.
Claims by DUP MP Gregory Campbell regarding a committee within the republican movement set up to deal with sex abuse claims are denied by Sinn Fein, as are claims regarding the alleged 2005 internal inquiry chaired by Gerry Adams. In July, Michael Connolly, a campaigner for a public inquiry into clerical abuse, tells the Belfast Telegraph that the Troubles allowed a cover-up in republican communities with victims fearing ostracization. He gives as an example the case of the son of an IRA man on the run who was abused by a senior republican from the age of 5 to 11 and whose family was told to keep quiet by local commanders.
In December, Gerry Adams states that the abuse trial coverage used a family tragedy to misrepresent and twist facts to suit its own narrow agenda. He is subsequently voted Northern Ireland’s most popular politician.
2014: In January, Liam Adams appeals against his conviction. In May, the NI Ombudsman investigates a claim, made by Liam Adams’ second wife, Bronagh, that the RUC briefed Gerry Adams on Liam’s case before trial.
Prosecutions brought against Martin Morris, the alleged rapist of Mairia Cahill, and Seamus Finucane, Padraic Wilson, Briege Wright and Maura McGrory, who conducted the ‘kangaroo court’ into the alleged rape, are dropped after Maria Cahill withdraws her evidence, due, she says, to a loss of faith in the justice system and the police investigation.
In October, Mairia Cahill repeats her allegations against Morris and others on the BBC Spotlight programme, in which she also states that Gerry Adams, in a meeting with her, stated that some abuse victims ‘may actually enjoy’ the abuse. Adams denies this, stating that although he did meet with Mairia, she said nothing about her rape by Martin Morris. He also says that he also asked her grand-uncle Joe Cahill ‘a senior and widely respected Republican’ to advise her to go to the RUC. Articles contemporaneously published in the media about sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl stated to have been carried out by Mairia’s grand- uncle Joe Cahill and his subsequent double agent status are described by Sinn Fein as ‘gutter journalism’.
Subsequently both Mary-Lou McDonald (on Newstalk) and Gerry Adams (in a blog post) admit that the IRA carried out ‘kangaroo court’ investigations and punished sex offenders. Mary Lou says that while not condoning these actions she believes that it was inevitable in the absence of a police service. When asked for further detail regarding these investigations, Adams says that there is ‘no corporate’ way of verifying same as the IRA has been disbanded. Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis confirms that a term was appointed by ‘well standing’ IRA members to investigate abuse allegations
It is announced that the PSNI is to carry out a review of prosecutorial systems and processes in relation to the three criminal cases linked to Mairia Cahill, who confirms that she previously acted as the National Secretary of the dissident Republican group RNU.
After an hour-long meeting with Mairia Cahill, Taoiseach Enda Kenny calls upon Gerry Adams in the Dail to say if IRA rapists and paedophiles were transferred to the Republic of Ireland. Gerry Adams does not answer this question.
Meanwhile, as MP Nigel Dodds expresses concerns that the results of the investigations into the decision not to prosecute Adams for withholding information are being concealed, a County Louth man comes forward with claims that he was raped as a teenager in the early 1990s by an IRA member hiding in his home, and subsequently interrogated by a ‘kangaroo court.‘ There are reports that Gardai in the same county are investigating complaints by two men of abuse by IRA members on the run in 2007 and 2009. There are also reports in the Sunday Times of October 26, 2014 of the rape of a teenage girl in Dublin in the 1990s by a prominent IRA figure from Belfast who may have played a role in the shooting of Martin Cahill. There are also reports that as many as 10 men within the Republican movement were moved south and escaped punishment after sexual offences. One of these men, who raped a 12-year-old girl in West Belfast, is reported to have been appointed to a senior position within the IRA command.
Media sources: Irish Times, irish Independent, Belfast telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, Sunday Life, the Belfast News Letter, Belfast Telegraph, irish News, the Sunday Times, RTÉ, UTV and the BBC.
Earlier: Seeking Due Process