I am not a lawyer and what I know about the law of Trusts, I have learned only in the last few days and even then my understanding is mostly imperfect.
But you don’t have to be a learned jurist to understand that Trusts are set up to fulfill well-defined responsibilities and must be very careful to ensure that a) those responsibilities are scrupulously executed and b) that only specified parties are beneficiaries of the Trust.
In the case of the Bobby Sands Trust we do not know for certain what its responsibilities are or who the beneficiaries should be. That is because the Trust has so far failed to make the relevant documents outlining these facts available for public scrutiny. Claims have been made but we are unable to judge their truth or weight.
Evidence has now emerged that last February the Bobby Sands Trust gifted an important historical artefact to Sinn Fein, to wit a letter from the about-to-be executed IRA activist, Tom Williams to the then IRA Chief of Staff, Hugh McAteer. The donor was Gerry Adams who is both a member of the Trust and the leader of Sinn Fein.
In the face of this evidence the need for a public explanation and accounting of the Bobby Sands Trust is now overdue.
As Christy Walsh, who discovered this transaction between Gerry Adams on behalf of the Bobby Sands Trust and Sinn Fein, on the Sinn Fein president’s Twitter feed, put it:
Gerry A(dams) is either making improper donations of Trust assets to a political party which are not part of the Trusts obligation and never intended to be used for that purpose.
Or Sinn Fein is the BST’s secret beneficiary.
Either way this award could give rise to serious impropriety and is it only a breadcrumb of similar sort of things scattered about twitter/facebook.
What happened here raises another troubling question. On behalf of a Trust of which he is a member, Gerry Adams has bestowed a gift to a political party of which he is the leader and of which other Trust members are also members. This appears to be a clear conflict of interest, notwithstanding any other breach of the Trust’s terms.
Bobby Sands’ heir is his son, Robert Gerald. What is his standing in relation to the disposition of his father’s writings? Where do other members of the Sands family stand, his two sisters in particular?
If the Bobby Sands Trust is being run properly, those who have charge of it will have nothing to fear by answering these pertinent questions and making the relevant documents public. They should not be surprised however if failure to provide reassurance at this level is interpreted in a way they will not welcome.