Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has come out fighting and described as ‘despicable’ the criticism he has received over his brother’s conviction for the sexual abuse of his daughter.

Adams has stated publicly that he ‘unconditionally rejects’ all claims that he committed any offence in relation to how he dealt with the knowledge that his brother Liam had abused his daughter Aine.

Speaking in Dundalk, the Sinn Fein President complained of a media witch-hunt and also slammed efforts by the DUP in the North to tarnish his reputation in the fall-out from the Liam Adams case.

Calls have been made by Attorney General John Larkin and the north’s police ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire to investigate why Adams was not prosecuted over an allegation he withheld information about his child sex abuser brother.

But Adams told the Irish Times: “I am a public figure and subject to scrutiny and that is fair enough. But the despicable manner in which this issue is being dealt with by the DUP and others, and by some cynical elements of the media, has become trial by media and a witch-hunt.

“For me this has always been a family matter. It was quite rightly brought to the RUC and social services in 1987. So accusations of cover-up are patently cynical and untrue.

“As well as the allegations raised by Áine, my family have also had to cope with the revelation that our father was an abuser.”

Adams also told the paper that he only learned of the concerns of the ombudsman and Attorney General through the media.

He added: “My rights, if I have any, are unclear. I think in the interests of fairness that those sections of the media and those politicians who have been involved in a quite despicable campaign in recent days should allow these agencies to complete their work.

“I reject unconditionally the charge that I committed any offence. I did my best and continue to do my best to deal with this issue.”

Adams said the police and social services had full information and detail of Áine Adam’s allegations from 1987.

He said: “I never had that detail. When Áine raised her abuse by her father with me again years later, she was an adult capable and entitled to make her own decisions on how she wanted to proceed.

“It was not my place to take decisions for her or to take any actions, other than what she wanted at that time, which was for Liam to acknowledge that he had sexually abused her; that she had told the truth and to apologise.

“I worked to facilitate an engagement between them with the aim of getting him to do this.

“When Liam failed to do this, Áine went to the PSNI. I co-operated fully with the PSNI. I made statements in support of Áine.”