Sinn Fein suspends woman councillor over child sex abuse claims

Pressure continued to grow on Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, today after his party was forced to admit that it has suspended a member over allegations of child sex abuse.

The allegations have been made in the wake of Mr Adams’ own difficulties over his brother Liam, who is wanted by the police on sex abuse charges.

Mr Adams revealed last month that his father Gerry Adams Senior sexually abused some of his children. The interview garnered him some public support while others suspected that he had chosen to make the revelation in a bid to divert attention from his own role in an alleged cover-up of Liam Adams’s alleged abuse.

A week later Peter Robinson, the Democratic Unionist leader who has temporarily stood down as Northern Ireland First Minister, gave an emotional televised statement in which he revealed that his wife Iris had an affair with a teenager and had attempted suicide.

Two days later the BBC Spotlight programme revealed that Mrs Robinson had procured £50,000 for her lover, Kirk McCambley, from two property developers.

The Robinson scandal has dominated the headlines but attention is turning to Sinn Fein and its alleged cover-ups of sexual abuse.

The party issued a statement last night saying that it was considering taking legal action against the Dublin Sunday Tribune newspaper, which ran a front-page headline saying: “Gerry Adams ignored two more rape victims”.

The paper claimed: “Two women abused by republicans say Sinn Fein leader knew but did nothing”. It says that a relative of Joe Cahill, a former Provisional IRA commander revealed that she was repeatedly raped at 16 by a prominent West Belfast Provo.

Another woman, the daughter of a Provisional IRA commander, gives the Sunday Tribune’s Northern Editor Suzanne Breen a harrowing account of abuse as a 10-year-old at the hands of an elected Sinn Fein representative.

Separately the Belfast Irish News reports this morning that a Sinn Fein councillor, Breige Meehan, has been suspended from the party after being questioned by police over allegations of abuse. She told the Irish News that she did not want to comment.

Mr Cahill’s relative told Ms Breen that the Provisional IRA investigated her claims but just facilitated her alleged abuser in a move to the Irish Republic.

She said that she met Mr Adams about the claims but described the exchanges as “pointless”.

After surviving a suicide attempt she said she confronted the Sinn Fein president.

“I told him I’d been treated disgracefully and never once had the republican movement told me to go to the police or social services,” she told the Sunday Tribune.

Mr Adams has faced repeated queries about his handling of the allegations concerning his brother Liam, of which he became aware in 1987.

He has been forced to defend claims he did not do enough to inform the authorities when he found out his brother was working in youth groups in West Belfast and the Irish Republic over the last 15 years.

He has now been forced to explain how he did not know his brother worked for Sinn Fein in the heart of his own West Belfast parliamentary constituency.

Liam Adams chaired a local branch of Sinn Fein in West Belfast in 2000 — three years after his elder brother claimed he had him expelled from party ranks in Co Louth in the Irish Republic.

“I don’t know every member of the party in West Belfast,” Mr Adams insisted. “I am also a very busy activist — a lot of this happened at a time of intense hyper-activity — but I didn’t know.”

The DUP’s Ian Paisley Junior has asked a Stormont Assembly committee to investigate if Mr Adams breached its rules by failing to act about his brother’s alleged sex abuse.

The DUP Assembly member submitted questions to Assembly Ombudsman Tom Frawley. Mr Frawley will assess if the complaint merits being passed to the Assembly’s Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Mr Adams said that his political opponents were using the issue in an attempt to undermine him. He said that he also felt constrained from fully defending himself by a need to protect the privacy of family members and by a desire not to prejudice any future court proceedings against his brother.