"Child abuse is a very difficult issue that people across Ireland are trying to come to terms with and central to all of this is the protection of children. This is not about political parties or indeed the impact on individual politicians. Sinn Féin comes at this from the position that the rights of victims are paramount. There is no cover-up or evasion by Sinn Féin of sexual abuse allegations involving party members. A number of alleged victims have in recent weeks come forward to tell their story and I support them fully in that.

"However the 'Sunday Tribune' has sought to use these horrific abuse cases to form part of a smear campaign against Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin.

"Yesterday Gerry Adams refuted the allegations made in the 'Sunday Tribune' that he had been aware of the abuse being suffered by the alleged victims and failed to act. Today, one of those alleged victims interviewed by the 'Sunday Tribune' confirmed that Gerry Adams was not told of the abuse as had been claimed by the 'Sunday Tribune' and that the paper was aware of this prior to publication. Furthermore, that victim has initiated legal proceedings against the 'Sunday Tribune' alleging that she was 'manipulated' by the paper.

"The treatment of this victim by the 'Sunday Tribune' is a disgrace.

"In addition to this, despite the party being in contact with the 'Sunday Tribune' over the weekend and the paper sending a list of questions to Sinn Féin, these allegations were never put to Gerry Adams to seek a response.

"Both Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams have placed these very serious matters in the hands of our legal representatives."