Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has attacked the republican movement by comparing it to the Catholic Church for trying to deal with cases of sexual abuse internally rather than alert the authorities.
Speaking after the sentencing of Liam Adams, brother of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, for the rape of his own daughter, Mr Martin said the length of time it took the republican movement to report the abuse to the authorities was “not tenable and not acceptable” and claimed the movement saw its own institution as more important than individual victims.
He claimed information he had “picked up” indicated this may have been a broader trend in the republican movement.
However, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was disgraceful that Mr Martin would try and score political points over a traumatic case.
She said there was no comparison between the approaches of Gerry Adams and the Catholic Church.
“The Church hierarchy set out to silence victims and deny them justice. Gerry Adams did the exact opposite. He acted in good faith to support the victim,” she said.
Earlier, paedophile Liam Adams was told he had committed the greatest breach of trust imaginable as he was sentenced to 16 years for raping his daughter.
Adams, aged 58, from west Belfast, showed no visible sign of remorse as a judge passed sentence in Belfast Crown Court, shaking his head occasionally during the hearing and then smiling and laughing as he was led from the dock.
As his crimes were committed at a time when offenders in Northern Ireland were still eligible for 50% remission on jail terms — a policy that has since beenreformed — Adams is set to be released after spending eight years behind bars.
The former youth worker was found guilty last month of a string of vile sexualassaults on his child Aine Dahlstrom when she was aged between four and nine in the 1970s and 1980s.
The 40-year-old, who has waived her right to anonymity, wiped tears from her eyes as she watched on from the public gallery.
Handing down the sentence, which comprised 16 years in custody and a further two years on probation, Judge Corinne Philpott said Adams’s continued refusal toadmit his guilt was still denying his daughter the closure she sought.
“It has been clear throughout that Mrs Dahlstrom simply wanted an acknowledgement from her father that what he had done to her during her childhood was wrong,” she said. “He has always denied her this acknowledgement and continues to do so.”
She added: “This case involved the greatest breach of trust imaginable where a father instead of caring for and protecting his daughter himself abused her.”
Adams was found guilty of 10 offences: Three counts of rape, four of indecent assault, and three of gross indecency.
His convictions have heaped pressure on his high-profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.
During a first trial earlier this year, which collapsed, the Sinn Féin leader claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him while the pair were walking in the rain.
The Louth TD faced criticism for not informing police about the alleged confession for another nine years.
PSNI officers recommended that Northern prosecutors take no case against him.
Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is now investigating if detectives properlyexamined if Gerry Adams covered up the crimes and the PSNI has pledged to review the case. Northern Ireland’s attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.
Gerry Adams has insisted he committed no offence and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.
The court heard that Mrs Dahlstrom first brought the matter to police in 1987 at a time when many people in republican communities distrusted and refused to co-operate with the security forces.
She did not pursue the matter at that stage, claiming detectives were more interested to hear information about her famous uncle than about the allegations she was levelling against her father.
It would not be for another 20 years before she went to police, after finding out that her father was working in a west Belfast youth club that her children attended.
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