Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was under severe political pressure last night as it emerged that his brother Liam, who is wanted by the PSNI to face child sex abuse allegations, was a prominent Sinn Féin figure in Dundalk, Co Louth, in the 1990s and also worked with young people there as late as 2004.
The Sunday Tribune has learned that far from being ostracised after revelations that he'd raped his own daughter, Liam Adams was extremely active in the party.
He sought the nomination to be Sinn Féin's candidate in Co Louth for the 1997 Dáil election but was defeated by local hardline republican Owenie Hanratty.
Liam Adams very much played on his family name. The details of his activities in Dundalk appear to contradict Gerry Adams' claim that he was estranged from his brother during that period. The "estrangement" is said to have lasted until 2002-2003.
However, a republican source said: "It is impossible that Liam sought the Dáil election nomination without Gerry knowing about it – absolutely impossible. Liam was very much the Belfast leadership's man in Dundalk, pushing their line all the time."
In January 1997, more than a decade after Gerry Adams knew his brother had raped his daughter, An Phoblacht – Sinn Féin's official newspaper – carried an advertisement for a pamphlet Liam Adams wrote entitled, 'Our children, drugs, alcohol and solvents'. The paper described Adams as a voluntary youth worker with the Muirhevnamor Community Youth Project in Dundalk. A photograph of Adams appears in the Dundalk Argus newspaper in 2004 when he was a 'project worker' on a youth scheme.
Liam Adams, who is on the run from the PSNI, is facing 23 charges of raping and abusing his daughter Aine between 1978 and 1983. Aine told UTV's Insight programme that the abuse began when she was four years old.
After Aine eventually told her mother Sally in 1987 about the abuse, they went to the RUC. Sally was then separated from Liam Adams who had beaten her during their marriage. In 1987, Aine and her mother also informed Gerry Adams of the rapes. Adams said he believed his niece's allegations and hasn't changed his mind since. He said he was appalled by the abuse and has given a statement to the PSNI.
In his 1996 autobiography, Before the Dawn, Gerry Adams makes 11 references to his brother Liam with no insinuation he has done anything wrong or is ostracised by the family.
When Liam Adams married his second wife Bronagh in Dundalk, after the 1987 revelations, Gerry Adams attended the ceremony. The couple were married in the Holy Family Church and had their reception in the Castlebellingham Hotel.
Many senior republicans attended the wedding. Photographs given to the Sunday Tribune show Liam Adams in his wedding suit with Gerry Adams, his brother Paddy Adams, and veteran republican Joe Cahill.
A republican source who was at the wedding said: "There was no way that Gerry was estranged from Liam, and Liam regularly used Gerry's name about Dundalk."
Liam Adams lived in the Muirhevnamor Estate in Dundalk where many Belfast Sinn Féin and IRA members on the run had moved to. A republican source said: "He was a minor celebrity among the Belfast community in Dundalk because of who his brother was."
In 1997, Liam Adams sought the Sinn Féin Dáil nomination for Co Louth in a move by the moderates aimed at challenging hardline local republicans. However, at a selection meeting in the Imperial Hotel, it became clear that activists supported militant republican Owenie Hanratty.
Liam Adams withdrew his nomination and Hanratty became Sinn Féin's candidate. Liam Adams was also active in promoting the peace process among Dundalk republicans. He lobbied for support for the Mitchell principles of peace and non-violence.
He was a strong opponent of dissidents. In 1998, he was quoted in The New York Times condemning the Omagh bomb atrocity, saying "the whole republican family is for peace".
At one stage Liam Adams worked for youth groups in West Belfast. Gerry Adams claims he had no knowledge of this and stopped it when he found out. Gerry Adams also said that he took his niece, then aged 14, to confront her father when he heard of the allegations.
His behaviour has been criticised by those who deal with sexual abuse. Eileen Calder of the North's Rape Crisis Centre, said: "Gerry Adams has an awful lot of explaining to do about the way he handled the situation. He is so well-educated and politically astute, how did he mishandle it so badly?
Republican sources believed Liam Adams was, until recently, living in Co Louth. They also believed he would now be pressurised to hand himself over to the PSNI.