Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams says his father was a sex abuser, and that family members who were abused are still recovering from the trauma.

He says he only found out about it 11 years ago when he was 50. The revelations come amid a police search for his brother Liam, who is wanted for abusing his own daughter.

Adams' father, Gerry Sr., was a member of the IRA who served time for shooting a policeman. He was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a defining influence on his son.

Adams said his father's abuse had traumatized his family.

"This discovery and the abuse which preceded it have had a devastating impact on our entire family," he said.

"We live with the consequences every single day. "Our family has debated for some time whether we should publicisz our father's abusive behaviour," he added.

"We do so now in the hope that, in time, this will assist the victims and survivors to come to terms with what happened and help them to move on from these dreadful events."

Adams was speaking in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE on Sunday. He said he did not recall being a victim.

“It obviously tests your faith in humanity when an iconic figure like my father engages in the psychological and emotional and physical and sexual abuse of a child, of his child, but with attention, with understanding, with resolve, and with love we can find our way through all of this.”

His father received a Republican hero's funeral and the coffin was draped in the Tricolor, something Adams now says was against his own wishes.

“That was one of the great dilemmas for me because I didn’t want him buried with the Tricolor. I think he besmirched it.”  He said the family did so for privacy reasons.

“So you have to look after the living as opposed to the dead,” he said.
The Sinn Fein president said his father was in denial about the abuse and "had died a lonely old man.

"I have pondered on this and brought myself back to the family home where the abuse took place.

"I tried to come back into childhood, back to bedrooms, back to other places where I know the abuse took place, and I cannot find any recollection of being personally abused.

"At the same time I am very mindful that sometimes flashbacks are caused by a smell, by a curtain, by a song, by some very mundane everyday event. But as I sit here, I do not have any recollection of abuse."

“I myself for a long time wanted this to be publicized because there is a culture of concealment, but we can only do this when everybody is strong enough."

On Friday, Adams called on his brother Liam to give himself up to police to answer allegations of sexual abuse.

An arrest warrant was filed for Liam Adams a year ago after his daughter went public with the allegations.