Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, will learn whether he will be charged or released later today in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. Mr Adams, 65, denies he was involved in the widow's abduction and murder.
As detectives continued to question Mr Adams, Sinn Fein's deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, claimed the arrest was politically motivated. Speaking in Belfast yesterday, he said that an "embittered rump of the old RUC" force were "cynically exploiting the awful killing" of Mrs McConville – accused by the IRA of collaborating with the British authorities in the early 1970s.
Mr Adams is alleged by former republican colleagues to have ordered Mrs McConville's murder and secret burial in 1972. The IRA later admitted killing her and her body was found on a beach in County Louth in 2003.
Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein Assembly member, said yesterday the party would not stop supporting the Northern Irish Police Service, but would "monitor and review" its relationship with the force.
Northern Ireland's Justice minister, David Ford, called Mr Adams's arrest "entirely appropriate". "Given the scale of the concerns expressed, of the information – which I accept is not yet evidence – it was entirely appropriate that should be followed up."