For almost four decades he led a double life.
Liam Adams – a younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – portrayed himself as a caring father, concerned community worker and ardent republican. But the 58-year-old has now finally been unmasked as a vile predatory paedophile who exploited every opportunity to sneak into his four-year-old daughter’s bedroom and rape her.
Born into a staunchly republican family revered in their west Belfast community as aristocrats of the movement, Liam Adams was one of 10 children.
His father, Gerry Snr, had been an IRA stalwart from the 1930s and also subjected members of his family to a torrent of physical, mental and sexual abuse over many years.
He met Sarah (also known as Sally) Corrigan when they were both 16. A short time later, she fell pregnant with their daughter Aine and the couple wed. It was an unhappy union frequently filled with violence. Sometimes the domestic abuse became so bad Sarah had to flee the family home, leaving evil Adams alone to molest their young daughter.
It was the height of the Troubles and Liam Adams, who according to friends was on the fringes of the IRA, would be absent for days at a time. Indeed, he was in prison around the time Aine was born.
By the end of 1981 and after four children, Liam Adams split from his wife permanently. He took little interest in his children save for a few access visits during which he sexually abused Aine.
Adams was a heavy drinker. He found it difficult to put down roots and his transient lifestyle led him to America, Canada, Donegal, Dublin and Dundalk.
During the early 1980s he struck up a new relationship with his second wife Bronagh – with whom he has two daughters – and who stood by him as harrowing details of child rape were revealed during his two-and-a-half week trial at Belfast Crown Court.
When he returned to Ireland, Liam Adams continued to lie to friends and family. Indeed, such was the level of his deception that he was trusted to work with children for almost 20 years.
Exposing Adams’ sordid secrets has had implications far beyond his family circle.
The revelations sent shockwaves throughout the republican movement and sparked widespread anger among the Sinn Fein party faithful.
Gerry Adams faced tough questions about why he did not tell police about his paedophile brother and explain how he was able to work with children for so long. When he appeared as a prosecution witness during the first trial in April, the Sinn Fein leader shifted uncomfortably in his seat when asked if had tried to “save his own political skin” by not revealing the truth until nine years after he learned his brother was a paedophile.
Gerry Adams told the court he warned a priest, who is now dead, about his brother’s sinister past and the pair became estranged after the allegations emerged.
However, pictures of the Adams brothers smiling together at Liam’s second wedding in 1987 and during an election canvass in Dundalk 10 years later, which were shown during the April case, contradicted claims the pair were not in touch.
Gerry Adams was not called as a prosecution witness during this latest trial.