February 2019

Convicted abuser Liam Adams dies

Liam Adams who was convicted of raping his daughter in the late 1970s and early 1980s has died.

The brother of former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams had recently been moved to a hospice from Maghberry Prison earlier this month for end-of-life care for terminal cancer.

He was serving a 16-year sentence for a string of attacks on his daughter Aine Dahlstrom when she was aged between four and nine.

The 63-year-old was convicted in 2013 of ten offences against his daughter – three counts of rape, four of indecent assault and three of gross indecency.

In a statement the Northern Ireland Prison Service “confirmed the death in custody of a 63-year-old prisoner from Maghaberry Prison.”

The Prison Service said the man died this morning.
They said that as with standard procedure, the PSNI and Prisoner Ombudsman have been informed.

Ronnie Armour, Head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service said: “I would like to extend my sympathy to the family of the prisoner. My thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

November 2013

Gerry Adams’ paedophile brother Liam jailed for 16 years raping his daughter

liam adams

The paedophile brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping his daughter.

Liam Adams, 58, from west Belfast, was found guilty last month of a string of sexual assaults on Aine Dahlstrom when she was a child in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC handed down the sentence, which included a further two years on probation, at Belfast Crown Court.

Liam Adams, from Bernagh Drive, was found guilty of 10 offences against his daughter. The abuse was committed over a five-year period between 1977 and 1981, when she was aged between four and nine.

Ms Dahlstrom has waived her right to anonymity.

Adams’s convictions have heaped pressure on his high-profile older brother to explain why he did not alert the authorities to the abuse allegations when he first learned of them.

During a first trial earlier this year, which collapsed, the Sinn Fein leader, now a public representative in the Irish Republic, claimed he first heard of the sex abuse claims in 1987 and, 13 years later, his younger brother admitted his guilt to him.

The former west Belfast MP faced criticism for not informing police at the time of the revelations. His statements to detectives were made in 2007 and 2009.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers recommended the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) take no case against the Sinn Fein veteran.

Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is now investigating whether detectives properly examined whether Gerry Adams covered up the crimes and the PSNI has pledged to review the case.

Attorney general John Larkin is examining the role of prosecutors.

Gerry Adams has insisted he committed no offence and accused political rivals of exploiting a family issue to attack him.

Adams, dressed in brown jacket, jeans and blue checked shirt, showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.

Ms Dahlstrom watched on from the public gallery.

As he left the dock her father smiled and laughed as he talked with prison guards.

Earlier Judge Philpott told the court that he had committed the “greatest breach of trust imaginable”.

“The evidence has established in the view of this court that he used this child for his own sexual gratification, whenever he had the opportunity when her mother was not present in the house.”

As well as spending two years on probation at the end of his prison sentence, Adams, a former youth worker, will be placed on the sex offenders register and will be barred from working with children.

The abuse started when Ms Dahlstrom was only four.

Among the aggravating factors the judge took into account when passing sentence were the age of the victim, the horrific nature of the crimes, and the continuing impact on Ms Dahlstrom.

She said the only mitigating factors were his poor health – he suffers from a circulation condition and arthritis – a lack of significant previous criminal record, and the fact that no evidence of further sexual offending since 1981 had emerged.

Ms Dahlstrom did not make a public comment on the sentence as she left the court.

October 2013

Liam Adams found guilty of sex attacks against his own daughter

Liam Dominic Adams, 58, from Bernagh Drive in west Belfast has today (01/10/13) been found guilty of raping and abusing his daughter by the jury at his trial in Belfast crown court

The charges, which dated back more than 30 years, included rape and gross indecency.

Adams is the brother of former Sinn Fein MP and alleged IRA leader Gerry Adams.

He will be sentenced later this week

Áine Adams – The daughter and victim of Adams – waived her right to anonymity throughout the trial

The offences were said to have occurred between March 1977 and March 1983 when his daughter Aine was aged between four and nine years old.

The jury of nine men and three women took little over 4 hours to reach their verdict, they convicted Adams on all charges, with a majority verdict of eleven to one.

Liam Adams consistently denied the charges throughout the two-week trial.

Details of the abuse were outlined during the trial including how Áine Adams had been raped while her mother gave birth in hospital to her brother.

Giving evidence in his own defence, Liam Adams said the abuse did not happen.

The trial in summary

Closing the case, a prosecution lawyer said the level of detail in Áine Adams’ evidence was a hallmark of truth.

“I suggest it is king in this case,” he said.

The lawyer said it was such that an ordinary member of the public who had not been abused could not have made it up.

He asked the jury “what possible reason would she have to lie?”.

However, a defence barrister said it was a case of one person’s word against another, that the jury did not have the benefit of physical evidence and questioned Áine Adams’s truthfulness.

“Not once in his whole life has any other person made any allegation of impropriety against him,” she said. Mr Adams had worked for many years as a youth worker.

Sarah Campbell, 57, gave evidence at the trial of her ex-husband, Liam Adams. 

Mrs Campbell was being cross-examined by a defence lawyer about her dealings, initially with social services, and then the police, when she rejected any suggestion that she had lied to the Crown Court and jury.

At one stage Mrs Campbell said that “there is somebody telling lies and I can assure you, I am under oath and it’s not me, nor my daughter… I’m not telling lies”.

Mrs Campbell went on to claim that the authorities, who were supposed to have helped, had instead “abandoned” them, and let her and her daughter down.

But for that her former husband would have “stood trial a long, long, long time ago” for making Áine’s life “hell”.

Earlier she had told the court of going to Buncrana in County Donegal with Áine and Gerry Adams to confront her former husband about the abuse allegations.

They had gone there in March 1987 shortly after mother and daughter had retracted the allegations from police.

Mrs Campbell told a prosecution lawyer that Gerry Adams confronted his brother privately while she and her daughter went for a walk on the beach.

She said that while her former husband denied the allegations, she again put them to him as they were about to drive back to Belfast.

“When I got into the car to go home, I turned round and said, ‘you did that’. He put his head through the window and said, ‘time will tell’,” Mrs Campbell said.

Mrs Campbell also revealed that she had been having problems with her rebellious eldest daughter with whom she constantly argued. Home life, she said, “was a nightmare”.

Then around Christmas time 1986, she said she was in the living room of their New Barnsley home in west Belfast, when, after another argument she heard noises on the stairs.

Something was pushed under the door… “it was a wee note, like a page out of a child’s jotter”, said Mrs Campbell.

“I picked up the note and read it. It said, ‘Mummy this is why I am like this, because my daddy makes me sleep with him’. That was the first I found out what happened,” she added.

She also told the prosecution that she and her daughter had withdrawn their police complaint after a health visitor advised her not to keep a further appointment with detectives who wanted to see her “in town”.

She said she felt the police were more interested in her former husband and his friends and the area, rather than her daughter.

“My own thoughts, they weren’t interest in what happened to my child, they were more interested in who was coming in the house and activities in the area… not interested in my child,” she said.

She said Aine and her both decided “it wasn’t the right time to… as it wasn’t about us anymore”.

Gerry Adams had told the trial of his younger brother that during a meeting between the two men 13 years ago, Liam Adams admitted sexually abusing his own daughter.

He said: “I had a long walk with Liam. We had a number of conversations. During the course of that, he acknowledged that he had sexually abused Aine. He said it only happened the once.”

When asked to clarify the language allegedly used, he replied: “To the best of my recollection, the terms he used were that he had molested her or that he had interfered with her, that he had sexually assaulted her.”

Defence barrister Ellis McDermott QC, suggested that the alleged admission in Dundalk, County Louth, had not taken place.

Gerry Adams said he did not accept that but understood it.

He claimed he had first confronted his brother about the allegations during a meeting in Buncrana, County Donegal, in 1987, but that Liam Adams had denied them.

Gerry Adams denied that he had threatened to hit Liam Adams with a hammer if the allegations were true.

He spent more than three hours in the witness box at Belfast Crown Court.

Under cross examination, Gerry Adams was asked why he had not informed police of the alleged admission for nine years. He replied that the police and social services were aware of his niece’s allegations.

The Sinn Fein president was also asked why he had told a TV journalist that Liam Adams had been out of his life for 15 years. The court was shown several photographs of the two men together.

The defence barrister suggested that he had made a second statement to police, including the allegation that an admission had been made, “to save your political skin”.

Gerry Adams replied: “If I wanted to save my political skin, I would not have got involved in this process from the beginning. I was trying to fulfil my responsibility as the uncle of a young woman I am very fond of.”

Two daughters of Adams accused of subjecting their half-sister to rape and sexual abuse told a jury he had done nothing to them.

Giving evidence at the Belfast Crown Court trial of 58-year-old Liam Adams, Claire Smith said she had “absolutely not” suffered any sexual abuse at the hands of her father.

The 29-year-old married mother of two said her father “was always there” when she was growing up.

Mr Adams’s 16-year-old daughter from his second marriage, who cannot be identified because of her age, also testified and was asked by defence lawyer Joe Brolly if “anything ever happened to you from your dad that ever caused you concern?”

“No,” she replied.

Later the statement of retired social worker Sheila Brannigan was read to the jury, in which she described becoming involved with the Adams family in January 1987 after the allegations were first made.

Mrs Brannigan recounted that at no time had she received a request from the RUC to ask Aine’s mother, Sarah Campbell, to meet them in the city centre.

Retired senior social worker Frances Donnelly told the jury that “at no time was that [request] ever raised, discussed or recorded”.

December 2009

Gerry Adams: My father was a child abuser


The West Belfast MP only discovered when he was 50 years old that his father, Gerry Adams Senior, had also 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.

In an interview with RTE News, Mr Adams also called on his brother, Liam, to give himself up to the authorities.

Liam Adams is wanted by the PSNI over charges of abuse against his daughter over a period of several years during her childhood.

Gerry Adams urged his brother to go to the PSNI for the sake of his niece Aine, Liam’s daughter, who has waived her right to anonymity.

He said his father was in denial for a lot of that time.

Mr Adams, from a family of 10 children, said: “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.

“And we don’t do it for any other reason than a necessary step in the healing process in our own clan. And also other families who are in the same predicament or individuals who just feel this is the end of the world.”

He said it was not the end of the world.

“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,” he added.

“But with attention, with understanding, with resolve, and with love we can find our way through all of this.”

He was asked about his father’s republican funeral and tricolour on his coffin.

“Personally that was one of the great dilemmas for me because I’m a republican. I’m speaking here as a human being, as a family member,” he said.

“I didn’t want him buried with the tricolour. I think he besmirched it but it was a dilemma for other members of my family who felt that they didn’t want this at that time out in the open.”

Had he not been buried as a former republican activist in the 1930s, a former prisoner, that would have drawn attention to the fact that there was something wrong.

“So you have to look after the living as opposed to the dead,” he said.

I always also had a view that was going to come out at some time.”