FORMER Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has opened up about his painful family life and the shock and ‘sense of betrayal’ at finding out his father was a child abuser.
The 72-year-old said he has taken a back seat in politics but shared his deep personal trauma relating to the discovery in a forthright discussion on Slipped Disk – an online chat show as part of men’s mental health initiative Jumpers for Goalposts with Kieth Kelly and Michael Nolan from DigitalDub.ie.
Speaking about mental health and personal vulnerability, the diehard republican said: “I’m as vulnerable as the next person.
“I mean the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life at a personal level, because you can rationalise many things, was the discovery that my father was an abuser.
“I have never come to terms with that. I have never worked that out.
“That’s just beyond logic and I know if you looked at it academically or looked at it through learning about why people end up in that situation it can be rationalised, by rationalise I mean you can understand how it might happen, but it’s just a desperate sense of betrayal.”
The abuse came to light back in December 2009 when the former politician revealed that his father, Gerry Adams Sr, had subjected family members to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
Mr Adams, at 50 years of age, also made the shocking discovery that his father had abused some of his own children.
In 2019, Adams’ brother and former IRA lieutenant, Liam Adams, died in prison while serving out a 16-year sentence for raping his own daughter.
He was convicted in 2013 for the rape and sexual assault of his daughter, Aine, then aged between four and nine, between 1977 and 1983.
Despite the distressing revelations, Adams describes his West Belfast childhood as poor but “idyllic”.
As was common among many large families struggling in cramped housing at the time, Adams spent much of his childhood living with his granny.
The life-long political figure formally stood aside as Sinn Féin president – handing over the reins to Mary Lou McDonald – in February 2018.
He insists that he hasn’t retired but said “I have retired from the position I was in as Uachtaran Sinn Féin or President of Sinn Féin.
“That’s Mary Lou’s post and her office but there hasn’t been a day since I stood down that I haven’t been working for Sinn Féin.
“I continue to work full time for Sinn Féin.”
He said that there was “no possibility, under any circumstances”, that he would run for Taoiseach or any form of high office.
“I’m just as busy but it isn’t the same intensity and it’s quietly in the background”, he added.