Sinn Fein's president Gerry Adams has revealed his late father subjected family members to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
The West Belfast MP said he found out 12 years ago that his father, Gerry Adams Senior, had abused some of his own children. He said his father was in denial for many years about his actions and eventually died a lonely old man. Details of how many of the children were abused and what ages they were have not been revealed.
Mr Adams's brother, Liam, is wanted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) over charges of abuse against his daughter, Aine Tyrell, over a period of several years during her childhood. Gerry Adams has urged his brother to go to the PSNI for the sake of his niece, who has waived her right to anonymity. Mrs Tyrell has alleged that she was abused by her father, and raped, over an eight-year period from the age of four in the late 1970s.
Yesterday her uncle revealed that, as well as knowing about Mrs Tyrell's allegations about her father since 1987, he had also known for more than a decade that his father had abused his children, Gerry Adams' siblings. The family had received professional help, he said, and he could not go public with the revelation until everyone was ready.
"I was almost 50 years old and up to that point I thought we were like any other family with a loving father," he said in an interview with RTE News. "It was a deep shock."
Mr Adams, 62, said he had no recollection of being abused. "I don't want to distract for one second from Aine's plight. I have felt for some long time we should go public about my father as part of the healing process within my own family and to try to help other families in the same predicament."
Mr Adams was born one of 13 children to Gerry Snr and Annie Hannaway, 10 of whom survived (five boys and five girls) and three of whom died at birth or shortly after. Gerry Snr joined the IRA when he was 16 and in the 1940s was sent to prison for eight years after participating in an IRA ambush on a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol. He died in 2003.
"Those who were abused didn't want to go to the police about it so in a very difficult way, with everybody coming at this at different speeds..., we have, with the assistance of professionals, with the assistance of other family members and friends, been able to survive it," Gerry Jnr said, adding that his father was in denial for a lot of that time.
"I myself for a long time wanted this to be publicised because there is a culture of concealment. But we can only do this when everybody is strong enough to do it.
"It obviously tests your faith in humanity when an iconic figure like my father engages in the psychological and emotional and physical and sexual abuse of a child, of his child. But with attention, with understanding, with resolve, and with love we can find our way through all of this."