What an impenetrably murky world politicians inhabit.
What layers of subterfuge, and incomprehensibly skewed morals, do they juggle as they haggle and negotiate their way to decisions allegedly for the good of us all?
How do they sleep at night, weighed down by the knowledge of the lives they have tossed into an abyss, whilst 'the hand of destiny was on their shoulder'?
Today the architects of the Northern Ireland peace process are under the spotlight, following the showing of an extraordinary documentary last night on Ulster TV.
The story is a sadly familiar one. A young girl comes forward, supported by her Mother, to detail the sexual abuse which her Father has inflicted on her since the age of four years old. It is the detail of how this information was handled by the authorities which have taken this from the realms of 'sad but not unheard of' to plumbing new depths of treachery, cynicism, and a desire for political power that surpasses all accepted boundaries of justice.
The young girl was Aine Tyrell, not a name that would make you sit up and pay attention, until you learn that she is Gerry Adams' niece. The abuser was her Father, Gerry Adams' brother, Liam. Gerry Adams has known of this abuse for many years, 20 in fact, and never doubted that it was true, but it was only last night, secure at his pinnacle of political power, that he felt able to speak out and support his niece.
How many other people knew of the horror endured by this young girl. Many. Despicably, treacherously, deceptively, duplicity, almost too many to name. I will do my best. They don't deserve to hide in the shadows.
Let us start with Gerry Adams - although we will move further up the troughing chain than that eventually. Mr Adams has now made a statement urging his brother to hand himself in to face the 23 charges that were laid in respect of this abuse over a year ago. A little tardy of him you might think, and the cynical of you will have noted that he made his statement, via his political press office, not personally, in the knowledge that a documentary billed as being about 'a strong republican family and allegations of sexual abuse' was going to be shown that very night. In the 'street of shame' it is known as 'spoiling the exclsuive'. Some might say that for such a pivotal figure to come out and publicly say that 'they support the victim and believe her' was a courageous stance. It might have been 20 years ago, today it could also be held as an attempt to influence justice. Long memories go back to Mary Harney's injudicious remarks at the time of the Haughey trial which effectively kept him out of jail
Liam Adams is reported to be living in the Donegal area; is it any coincidence that Gerry Adams appears to have lost control of the dissident IRA. If the information as to his probable whereabouts is available to me, then one presumes that the yobs of West Belfast or Kev 408 are similarly Internet savvy. Was this an attempt to get Liam safely ensconced in the arms of the Northern Ireland Police Serve before the 'boyos' caught up with him?
What had been Gerry Adams' actions prior to Aine waiving her right to anonymity?
Speaking exclusively to UTV's Insight special, Aine Tyrell claimed that Gerry Adams had known about the abuse for twenty years.
She has also talked about her need to go public with her story, and explained disillusionment and frustration at how she feels let down by the police, social services, the church and her uncle Gerry.
Eventually, Aine wrote her mother a letter telling her about the abuse. After informing social services and the police, she told her uncle, one of the most recognisable republicans in Northern Ireland, Gerry Adams.
Mr Adams attempted to make his brother answer for his alleged crimes, by trying to set up a meeting between Aine and her father so she could put the accusations to him directly.
Aine said she attended the "rushed" meetings with her uncle on her own, but said the tone changed as Mr Adams started to defend his brother.
"I got my eyes opened when I was going to the meetings. It was turning into Liam was the victim."
However, Aine believes she was let down by her uncle.
"I ended up saying look do you know what it is, you have failed me again, when twenty years later I've asked you to do one thing.", she said.
He expected this 14 year old girl to confront her Father in front of her other adult relatives, with all the emotional and psychological confusion and pain inherent in that - and how many of the IRA hierarchy were present? Asking a young rape victim to confront her rapist is going to help her precisely how?
Eileen Calder of the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre in Belfst has been a strong supporter of the Republican movement, even though not a Republican herself, but she has been quoted in the Dail in the past about the IRAs 'internal' methods of justice.
a serious case in Northern Ireland where a woman was raped, then intimidated to the point that it was perfectly clear that she should not attempt to report this and that if she did report it, other things might happen. Other instances of intimidation including threats from the IRA against individuals were brought by representatives of Community Restorative Justice. This is appalling. In another case, Eileen Calder described how a woman who was raped was brought face to face with the rapist in a room, which the victim described as worse than the rape itself.
Given the traditional reaction in working class republican areas to crimes of this nature, it is curious that Liam Adams still had the physical ability to get himself to Donegal other than by stretcher - what deals were done behind closed doors that allowed him safe passage?
There is an allegation that the prominent Belfast priest Fr. Aidan Troy was brought in - by Liam Adams himself to 'mediate' on his behalf, rather than allow him to face criminal prosecution. Last night Fr Troy issued a statement denying claims he had attempted to persuade Ms Tyrell, aged 36, from proceeding with a case. Perhaps not, but how helpful would a Belfast priest be in encouraging a prosecution for child abuse? They have history in these matters.
One of the more worrying aspects of this affair is that Aine and her Mother did go to the RUC in 1987 - a time when this would have been seen as the ultimate betrayal of the family, and the party and how much courage must it have taken to walk through the RUC doors in those days of 'the troubles'. Did the RUC ever seek to arrest Liam Adams, question him, involve Social Services? It appears not. Not even a quiet but helpful word in the ear of Ian Paisley. What would have been the motive for the RUC to stay their hand? Quite extraordinary when you consider how many Northern Ireland Policemen have gone on to become experts in child abuse.
According to the programme, her mother said the RUC seemed “more interested in recruiting her as an informer than dealing with Aine’s abusing father”.
Medical tests were taken and social services were also informed and documentary evidence of these tests and contacts are still on file, according to Insight.
The programme also reported that at the time because so few in the local nationalist community recognised the legitimacy of the RUC that “under pressure” Ms Tyrell didn’t proceed with the case. The statements, however, are still on file and Ms Tyrell believes these can be used to prove her allegations against her father.
A peace process was underway. Arresting the brother of the Sein Fein leader would have been seen as 'dirty tricks' and possibly resulted in far more deaths on the troubled streets. Besides, the information gleaned on Liam Adams would have been very useful to the authorities on both sides of the border. A negotiating tool even. What pressure was brought to bear on Gerry Adams over this matter? Could the British Security Services have possibly not been aware of this? Inconceivable. Was Tony Blair told?
The final straw for Aine Tyrell was not the knowledge that her father subsequently got a job as a youth worker in the Muirhevamore Community Centre. A job working with impressionable children in one of the most deprived areas of Dundalk, a man known to be a senior henchman of the Provisional movement - if his own niece had not managed to take action against him, how many other children would have felt helpless to complain of his advances?
No, the final straw for Aine came 20 years ago with the knowledge that her father had remarried, and begun a new family.
She said: “When I realised that there was a new child in the house, a wee girl in the house, living there permanently, I was devastated, absolutely devastated.
“I couldn’t motivate myself to go to school. I couldn’t motivate myself for anything, youth clubs, I mean it all stopped. I didn’t go out, I didn’t eat, everything was a fight. I had the school board coming to the door to see why I wasn’t going, and my mummy was like: ‘She’s grieving over her Granny, she hasn’t ate in weeks. I had her to the doctors, she’s went down to six stone, she’s just loads of things’ and all that’.”
The situation came to a head after an argument between mother and daughter and it was at this stage that Mrs Tyrell spoke out for the first time.
Mrs Campbell said: “Next thing I heard somebody at my living room door and there was a wee letter, was an envelope pushed underneath the door, and I heard the wee feet running back up the stairs again.
“And I bent down and picked up the envelope. It says: ‘Dear mummy, and this is why I’m like this, my daddy made me sleep with him’. That’s the day my world sort of ended.”
Her daughter added: “That’s exactly what I says. That he was making me sleep with him.”
It is the politicians, the intelligence services, and the church, who have been conspiring to keep this quiet ever since.
They cared nothing for a young girl's distress.