Gerry Adams’ decision to sue Independent Newspapers over a piece published in the Irish Independent reporting that the North’s Police Ombudsman is investigating a complaint that he was briefed by the PSNI about the details of the case against his pedophile brother Liam before he gave evidence at his brother’s trial, is really aimed at silencing the media over the Jean McConville disappearance.
The story of that complaint to the Ombudsman was reproduced in the Indo’s sister paper, the Belfast Telegraph and can be read here.
Gerry Adams knows that one only has to whisper the words “libel action” in the ears of the Irish and British media for editors to run for cover over any story concerning the individual making the threat. While Mr Adams certainly has cause for concern if the complaint to the Ombudsman is upheld, he has perhaps a greater interest in killing off the Jean McConville story.
Interestingly the person who lodged the complaint is Liam Adams’ second wife Bronagh, and that suggests intense family strife over Gerry’s decision to turn against Liam in the witness box.
The real story he wants to quosh is the one about his alleged part in the disappearance of Jean McConville, especially if there is more damaging material ready to spill out, material he perhaps learned about during his brief sojourn in Antrim PSNI station.
It is my guess that he will be hoping that the threat of a lawsuit about the Indo story will have a knock-on effect on editors and they will practice caution about everything to do with Gerry Adams.
This is a time for the media to keep its nerve. Threatening a lawsuit does not mean that it will end up in court. Often lawsuits are threatened just to silence the media and Adams does have a problem should he decide to follow through. A case like this revolves almost entirely around the credibility of the person bringing the complaint and in Adams’ case that means a libel case will become a trial over whether he was or was not a member of the IRA. He will have to take the witness box and if his interrogator is again Eilis McDermott, then all bets are off.
If he has any sense he won’t be tempted to go the full mile. The number of witnesses ready to swear he was in the IRA is likely to circle the law courts in downtown Belfast several times.