There was a lot of manipulation going on last week. And we witnessed a concerted attempt to mount a smear campaign. But none of these tactics were employed by the Sunday Tribune against Sinn Féin. We don't have to. We stand by our stories of cover-ups of sexual abuse in the republican movement and the assertion that Gerry Adams, by his actions, put the welfare of senior figures in the movement ahead of his niece, of a 10-year-old child alleging sexual abuse and a 16-year-old girl alleging rape.
The Sinn Féin leader claimed online and in television and radio interviews that the Sunday Tribune has built a trail of untruths and mounted a very serious smear campaign against him personally and the party. He is hiding behind the threat of legal action against this newspaper and the situation of one anonymous victim who, after telling her story and posing for pictures, came under intense pressure to rescind it.
He claims that she was manipulated by the Sunday Tribune, but he offers no specifics. For the record let us restate our position. We would pursue any political party and its leader with equal vigour given the information we have unearthed.
This woman's brother invited us to interview her and we have dealt at all times with this woman with great sensitivity. She offered to pose for photographs and both she and her brother repeatedly made the claim that Gerry Adams knew of the abuse two years ago but did nothing to suspend the Sinn Féin official, who has now been suspended.
We refute claims made by the victim, through solicitors Madden and Finucane, that she had never given permission for the interview or allegations to be used. We respected her wish not to reveal her identity and did not publish her name. A fuller account of the chronology of events can be found on Page 14.
Today, more questions emerge for Gerry Adams with the disclosure of yet more inconsistencies in his story of how he handled the alleged child sex abuse of his niece áine Tyrell by his brother Liam.
Tyrell's account blows wide open the lie that the Sinn Féin leader and his brother were estranged. In fact, after he took her to meet her father, he gave her and her family no support despite her clear distress. He did not remember his niece in birthday or Christmas cards, but nine years later, he sent her a copy of his autobiography, dedicated in the foreword, among others, to his brother Liam. There is a suggestion that Liam even researched the book for Adams.
The young woman also rubbishes suggestions by Gerry Adams that he did not tell the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Féin of his brother's alleged rape of his daughter in order to protect his niece. Áine Tyrell says she would have been happy at any stage to let the Sinn Féin leadership know what he had done. The same applied to the youth projects her father worked for. She repeatedly raised her fears that her father might pose a threat to other children to Adams, but he ignored her. He even told her that her alleged rapist father was working in youth projects to try to make up for what he had done to her. In later meetings, he also told her that her father was suicidal, hardly the action of a man caring for a victim of abuse.
In a debate with our Northern Editor Suzanne Breen on Pat Kenny's show last Friday, Sinn Féin deputy president Mary Lou McDonald insisted Sinn Féin fully appreciated the seriousness of child abuse which, she said, has reared its head everywhere in Irish society, and she insisted there were no cover-ups.
Unfortunately, the facts do not bear this out. Suzanne Breen has dragged the truth from Gerry Adams and the party, "kicking and screaming" as she put it herself, by exposing the lies the party leader has told. Child abuse does take place in individual families and can be perpetrated by members of any political party. It is how that party deals with it – by protecting the child or the victim and not the party member – that is the measure of its credibility.
Who is telling the truth? You decide.