In this section of the cross examination Mr Adams, under pressure from barrister Eilis McDermott, claims not to remember Liam having lived in his home for a six week period. He is also asked about his knowledge of Liam working with children after he had become aware that his brother had been sexually abusing his own daughter.
Cross examination of Gerry Adams by Ms McDermott QC at the Crown Court in Northern Ireland sitting at Belfast; Monday April 22nd 2013. Supplied by the office of the Lord Chief Justice.
Eilis McDermott: You wrote an autobiography Mr Adams called “Before the Dawn”, isn’t that right?
Gerry Adams: That’s right.
Q: And you will take it from me for the moment that your foreword in that book is dated “February 1996, Belfast”?
A: Yes, if you say that it what it is, yes.
Q: You don’t have it with you I’m sure, I will certainly pass it over to you in a moment?
A: No, I accept what you are saying.
Q: No, I am going to ask you something else about it. You thank various people at the end of your
foreword, do you remember that?
A: Yes I do, yes.
Q: And you thank your publisher and people in the publisher’s office and then you say, “I want also to thank Colette, our Paddy, my father, brothers and sisters, especially Liam”.
Q: “Uncle Alfie Hanaway, Gerry Begley, Father Alex Reid who all helped to jog my memory”.
Q: So that you clearly had significant contact with him while you were writing that book?
A: Well, I don’t know specifically what you mean by the word “significant”, I was in touch with him, I acknowledge it in the foreword.
Q: How many brothers and sisters do you have Mr Adams?
A: I have nine.
Judge Philpott: Is that counting you?
The Witness: No 10 including me.
Ms McDermott: And he is the one, they are all happily still alive are they?
A: They are, yes.
Q: And he is the one that you singled out for thanks in relation to helping to jog your memory.
A: Yes, well I have to go back to what I was saying previously, I was involved in the process of trying to keep, in so far as I could, my family together but also deal with this issue that Aine had
alleged about her father. So you know, one tries in all of this to create circumstances where people can get their lives back together and so on and I dealt with this in a very forthright and honest way.
Q: Is that your assessment is it, Mr Adams?
A: Well I am only here to speak for myself as you know, but I might your Honour just ask there is an issue that I want to raise but I might need your advice on it first.
Judge Philpott: If there is an issue I think we will just deal with it in the absence of the jury.
Ms McDermott: It is my submission it is highly irregular for a witness to ask…
Judge Philpott: It maybe highly irregular but I want to make sure relevant evidence is given and if there is any doubt about it.
Ms McDermott: Very good your Honour.
Judge Philpott: Members of the jury I am going to ask you to rise, I don’t know what it is yet but it may be a legal matter and if it is, I will deal with it.
(Jury Out 12.00)
Judge Philpott: Ms McDermott, I would rather it was asked, we have all had experience of when witnesses just blurt something, sorry, just blurt something out, and then it’s too late to do anything about it.
Ms McDermott: Of course, I fully respect what your Honour has decided to do, but the court knows that this witness has been warned.
Judge Philpott: I do, but I know how long it took to get to this stage.
Ms McDermott: Yes.
The Witness: Well, your Honour, you will know, I accept this entirely, that I have been very limited in elements of the evidence that I can give.
Judge Philpott: Well, can I just say, you have been very limited because we are here to deal –
The Witness: No, I appreciate that. I accept that entirely and that’s why I asked to take advice from you on this. I always regretted that foreword and I always regretted the foreword, not so much around Liam –
Judge Philpott: Just to stop you there. That’s enough. Right, Ms McDermott, is he entitled to say that?
The Witness: Well, it’s about my father, your Honour.
Ms McDermott: Definitely not, your Honour.
Judge Philpott: No, not about that – so the reason you regretted the foreword was because about your father?
The Witness: Because I wasn’t aware of what the allegations against my father, and I always regretted that I wrote this book and it did reflect my childhood as I recalled it, but then I ended up in this situation where I heard a totally different story about my father. And I always, always regretted.
Judge Philpott:Well, I think you were wise to ask. I can’t say that, Mr Adams, and don’t say it. Just carry on with the issues. I appreciate it may cause a difficulty in your own mind for you, but we are concerned solely with this trial. And to go into that would not be helpful for the trial.
The Witness: Well, I appreciate your advice, but, you know, it does mean –
Judge Philpott:: I’m afraid you’re going to have to take it.
The Witness: No, I do take it without condition whatsoever, but it does –
Judge Philpott: I appreciate that you may feel that you have –
The Witness: Place me in a –
Ms McDermott:If it is of any assistance, and just in case the witness is under any misapprehension about this, I don’t intend to ask him anything that is in his book.
Judge Philpott:I think the difficulty is this, it’s the foreword. But if I could just say this: If you regret the foreword because of your father, it’s not relevant to this directly. And I’m sure you’re quite able to see that and we have to keep to the exact issues.
Ms McDermott: Okay. Thank you, your Honour.
Judge Philpott: Carry on.
Mr Gerry Adams (Cont’d) Cross-examination by Ms McDermott QC.
Q: Now, you say, Mr Adams, that your brother made an admission to you when you were walking around Dundalk in the rain in the year 2000 is that right?
Q: And if that – I should make it clear to you that I am suggesting to you that no such admission was ever made, do you understand?
A: I do understand. I don’t accept it, but I understand
Q: If what you say is true, then you can have been in no doubt whatsoever in 2000 and onwards, but that your brother had sexually assaulted your niece, is that right?
A: That’s true, yes.
Q: Did you know that he was working in youth clubs?
A: I did, yes.
Q: Which youth clubs did you know that he was working in?
A: Well he was working in Clonard Youth Club.
Q: And also in a youth club in Beechmount known as The Blackie centre, is that right?
A: That’s right, yes.
Q: Those two in particular. Did you know that he was also working with youth in Dundalk?
Q: Perhaps not children in Dundalk, but young people.
A: Well, if I may, I raised the issue about him working with young people in Dundalk and he, you might need to advise me on this as well, your Honour, he told me that he was working with young people…
Q: If you just let me ask you the questions.
Judge Philpott: Just before you go on. What age were the young people in Dundalk?
The Witness: Well…
Judge Philpott: If you don’t know just say.
The Witness: No, but I think they were in their late teens or mid teens.
Judge Philpott: Mid to late teens?
The Witness: I mean, I can’t say that specifically, but I think that’s ...
Ms McDermott:Well let’s leave Dundalk out of it for the moment. You have a particular association, don’t you, Mr Adams, with Clonard Monastery?
A: That’s correct, yes.
Q: And I’m not sure whether I read this out from your foreword or not, but one of the people whom you thank is Father Alex Reid who is famously associated with Clonard Monastery, isn’t that right?
A: That’s right, yes
Q: And who was and no doubt is a friend of yours.
A: He’s a very close friend of mine.
Q: And the youth club that your brother went to work in was the Clonard Monastery youth club, isn’t that right?
A: That’s right, yes
Q: And he went to work there, Mr Adams, I suggest in 1998.
A: He may well have, yes.
Q: I’m suggesting to you that you know that he went to work there in 1998 because he was living with you at that time for a period of six weeks.
A: Where was he living with me?
Q: In your house
Judge Philpott: Who’s this?
Ms McDermott: The accused.
Judge Philpott: The accused was living with you for six weeks in 1998.
Ms McDermott:Your brother.
A: Well, I genuinely don’t have any recollection. He was in my house many times, but I have no recollection of him living with me for six weeks.
Q: I am suggesting to you that he had been living in Dublin and Dundalk, you know that don’t you?
Q: And that he came back to Belfast in 1998, having applied for a job in Clonard Youth Club, having successfully applied for it, but not having had time to make accommodation arrangements for his family he came for the first six weeks of his working in Clonard to live with you.
A: Well, I genuinely have no recollection of that whatsoever.
Q: And that he remained working in Clonard Youth Club for five years.
A: He may well have. I raised this issue with him and I also raised this issue with the authorities in Clonard.
Q: Well, I want to suggest to you that you never raised any such issue with the authorities in Clonard.
A: Well, there were other developments in my family which had nothing to do with Aine.
Q: I’m not asking you about anything else to do with your family
A: Well, I’m giving you an ......
Q: Mr Adams, please try to concentrate .............
A: With respect...........
Judge Philpott: Maybe he can explain it without going into an extraneous detail.
Ms McDermott: Well, your Honour, it’s nothing to do with anything I’m asking him.
A: It’s got to do with Clonard and I want to give an explanation.
Judge Philpott:Well, I’m going to let him give the explanation in relation to Clonard.
(To the Witness): Now, Mr Adams, I noticed you’re taking notes.
The Witness: Well, I’m doodling.
Judge Philpott: Well, it would be better if you don’t.
The Witness: All right, your Honour. When I say I’m doodling, I have written down one or two bits, yeah.
Judge Philpott: Don’t, it’s just that you haven’t any other documents except the ones that have been given to you ?
The Witness: No, no.
Judge Philpott: That’s fine.
The Witness: Not at all.
Ms McDermott: Well, might the Court’s direction be brought back ...sorry your Honour.
Judge Philpott: He simply deals with the issue of what he... you have put it to him that he did not raise this matter with the authorities in Clonard.
Judge Philpott: And he says he did. Now, he is allowed to answer how he raised it with the authorities in Clonard.
Ms McDermott: Well, might I ask the court to direct the witness’ answer towards when he raised it and to whom he raised it, or with whom he raised it.
Judge Philpott: Right.
(To the Witness): Doing the best you can, Mr Adams, when did you raise it with the authorities in Clonard and who in Clonard did you raise it with?
The Witness: Well, as I’ve said before, there were other developments in my family which needed attention, and Clonard allowed us to use.......
Judge Philpott:Mr Adams, I’m concerned that you are straying from the question. You know, just in relation to your brother Liam.
The Witness: Okay, well....
Judge Philpott: When did you raise these issues with Clonard and with who?
The Witness: Well, I had acquainted the authorities in Clonard about the other issue involving my family, and I also acquainted them with the fact that an allegation had been made against Liam and that he was working in the youth club. And I raised this with a Father McGoran.
Judge Philpott: Can you remember when?
The Witness: No, I don’t, but it was during that period.
Ms McDermott: During that what, sorry?
A: During that period.
Q: During the five year....sorry, your Honour.
Judge Philpott: Hold on.
(To the Witness): It stated that Mr.... now, correct me if this is wrong.
Ms McDermott: Yes.
Judge Philpott: Mr Liam Adams came back to obtain a job in Clonard in 1998.
Ms McDermott: That’s right, your Honour, yes.
Judge Philpott: So, therefore, if you raised it, does that help you in giving any time?
The Witness: Well, it was because I actually told Liam that I thought that he should not be working with young people and I then went and, as I said earlier on, and I think it was within a very short time of him coming to, back to that post.
Judge Philpott: So when did he take up the post do you know, Ms McDermott?
Ms McDermott: I think it was October of 1998.
Judge Philpott: So it would have been obviously some time after October 1998.
The Witness: Yes.
Judge Philpott: Well, can you, taking that as .....was it before he took up post or was it after he took up post?
The Witness: It was before when I, I think he may have told me that he was taking up this post, but it was certainly afterwards.
Ms McDermott: So you told him, you think, before he took up the post, that he shouldn’t take it up? Is that right?
A: Yes, well, I told him he shouldn’t be working with young people.
Q: And after he took it up you told him that he shouldn’t take it up?
A: Yes, and again I did it because I think that was the right thing to do, but I also did it because Aine raised it with me.
Q: Well, Aine, I’ll come to that again in due course. But you tell him before he takes it up and after he takes it up. And then you say that you tell Father McGran.
Judge Philpott: Could somebody just spell that, so I can get it right?
Ms McDermott: It’s probably G O R A N:
(To The Witness): But he continued to work there for five years, isn’t that right?
A: Well, for five years I suggest.
A: He continued to work during the period where we were trying to construct the meeting between himself and Aine, and that was my focus in relation to all of this. He also, I understand, had police clearance to work.
Q: I was just going to ask you about that. Did you know that he had police clearance to work there?
A: No, I didn’t at that time. I didn’t until subsequently.
Q: When subsequently?
A: When the media raised the, when the whole issue became a matter of some media coverage
Q: When was that?
A: Again, I don’t recall, but it was around the time that that programme that you alluded to earlier was taking place.
Q: Round about November 2009?
A: Whatever the date was.
Q: Yes. And you say that’s the first time that you were aware that he had police clearance?
A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: Of course, you knew, Mr Adams, no doubt as a citizen but certainly as a member of Parliament, that anybody working with children and young people required police clearance for just these reasons.
A: That’s true. I don’t know if they were as rigid then as they are now, or as thorough or robust then as they are now.
Q: Between 1998 and 2003? They must have been, mustn’t they, because you now know that he did have police clearance?
A: Yes, but as a matter of statements from the institutions involved.
Q: And, of course, it shouldn’t be a matter, should it, of you or anyone else telling a person who is suspected of being a sexual abuser of children that you thought they shouldn’t be working there? It was within your power to make sure that he wasn’t working there.
A: Well, as I can do, and as you know Liam denies this allegation, is to bring it to the attention of those who have responsibility, and also to bring it to Liam’s attention as well. And I didn’t bring it to Liam’s attention in a, you know, a dictate sort of a way. I tried to reason with him. If he wanted all of this to be put behind him and if he wanted to acknowledge or to get his life, you know, a future with a new family and so on, then he shouldn’t be leaving himself open to any accusation that he’s working with young people, that he shouldn’t be working with young people. And he told me that he was working with young people because he wanted them to have a better start in life than him and based upon his experiences.
Q: But this wasn’t about him, Mr Adams. This was about the danger that was posed to young people if what you say is true.
A: Well, I have already answered that question. I brought it to the attention of those who were in authority.
Q: What about the police? Did you bring it to their attention?
A: I didn’t, because at this point Aine was an adult. This, insofar as we know, was a legacy issue. I am not Aine’s parent. I am an uncle and she has many uncles. And I was trying my best to resolve these matters in a way which helped Aine, but also, if I may say so, in a way which allowed Liam to get rid of these demons.
Q: Mr Adams, this is not about your niece Aine, it’s not about your brother getting rid of his demons. This is about the protection of children and young people in your constituency, in a youth club which is associated with Clonard Monastery with which you had a very close connection
A:Well, I have answered that question, I think, and if I may say so, this is all about Aine.
Q: Well, it’s a matter for the court, Mr Adams, but I am suggesting to you that there is a very clear distinction here; your duty in relation to informing the police if you thought that your brother posed a danger, a sexual danger to children and young people, was to tell the police about it and to put a stop to it.
A: Well, I think you have come to the point. I didn’t believe at that point that my brother was a danger. I think that he’d, and I don’t want to stray into realms of speculation, but given his acknowledgement to
me and the fact that he said this only happened the once. And, remember, I had lengthy conversations with my brother, lengthy, lengthy conversations over a long time with my brother. And I think I know him, I know him fairly well.
Q: So you decided that you would be the arbiter of whether he posed a danger to those....
Q: Just let me finish the question, whether he posed a danger to these children and young people in your constituency?
A: I don’t know how many times, your Honour, I have to repeat the fact that I brought this to the attention of the authorities in Clonard.
Q: You brought it, you say, to the attention of a Father McGoran. The police is the civil authority and was at that time in Clonard.
Judge Philpott: Well, Ms McDermott, although it wasn’t proceeded with, it is fair to say the police did have information about an allegation in 1987.
Ms McDermott: Yes, but the police.....sorry
Judge Philpott: Although it was not proceeded with, they still had that information.
Ms McDermott: What the police didn’t have, of course, Mr Adams, if the evidence you are giving
today is true, is the information that not only was there an allegation but the person against whom the allegation was made had admitted it to you right in the middle of the period that’s working in Clonard youth centre.
A: Well, again I have answered that. As your Honour rightly points out, the police did have this statement. The Social Services also had a statement . Aine is now a young woman with her own children, and in all of my dealings with her she said she just wanted acknowledgement from her father.
Q: Mr Adams, please just try to answer the questions and not stray .....
A: I have answer them, with respect.
Q: And not stray beyond them. So as far as you were concerned, you say this was a legacy issue?
A: Yes, as far as I’m informed. And, remember, if you would, that other matters not relevant to Aine that were being dealt with at that time.......
Q: Mr Adams, do you think that I am asking you about any other matters that are not relevant to this case? Because let me assure you ............
A: I don’t know quite what you are asking me, with respect.
Judge Philpott: A dispute with counsel seldom helps.
Ms McDermott: Well, I think it can’t be made any more clear to the witness that I am just asking him about this case
Judge Philpott: We know that, Ms McDermott.
Ms McDermott: Not anything else.
Judge Philpott:Just keep on the issues.
Ms McDermott: Yes.
(To The Witness): May the court take it that............
Judge Philpott: Both people just keep on the issue.
The Witness: Okay
Ms McDermott: May her Honour and the jury take it that after this alleged admission that your brother makes to you in Dundalk in 2000 is concerned, that you don’t say to him: You’re going to have to get out of Clonard youth centre
A: Well, I had already put that to him. You know, he knew my feelings on that issue. There is no question but that I raised this issue on a number of occasions
Q: One thing to .....
Judge Philpott: Ms McDermott, excuse me.
(To The Witness): Could I just ask you this, though: Did you ever say to him: If you don’t get out I’m going to have to go to the police?
The Witness: No, I didn’t say that to him, but I did say to him that, you know, Aine has taken this course of action and if you don’t bring yourself and strengthen yourself to deal with this, then it’s going to end up with the police.
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