Gerry Adams arrested: Jean McConville's son welcomes Sinn Fein leader’s detention

Adams continues to be questioned by police in Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, is being questioned by police in Northern Ireland in connection with the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

The former West Belfast MP was detained last night after voluntarily presenting himself for interview at a police station in Antrim.

Mr Adams said he was "innocent of any part" in the murder shortly before he was held on Wednesday evening. He has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he had a role in ordering the death of Ms McConville.

In a statement issued just minutes after his arrest, Mr Adams said: "I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.

"Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.

"While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville."

The mother-of-10 was dragged away from her children after being wrongly accused of passing information to the British army in Belfast. She was held at one or more houses before being shot and secretly buried, becoming one of the so-called Disappeared victims of the Troubles. Her remains were recovered on a beach in County Louth in 2003.

Jean McConville before she vanished in 1972 Jean McConville before she vanished in 1972 Mrs McConville's son Michael, who was 11 when his mother was kidnapped, welcomed the arrest.

He told the BBC: "We're just happy to see everything moving as it is moving at the minute.

"Me and the rest of my brothers and sisters are just glad to see the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) doing their job. We didn't think it would ever take place [Mr Adams' arrest], but we are quite glad that it is taking place.

"All we're looking for is justice for our mother. Our mother, on the seventh of next month, would have been 80 years of age.

"Although we didn't spend much time with our mother, we'd have like to have spent a lot of time with her. If the IRA hadn't have killed our mother, God knows, she still might have been alive today."

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the arrest was "politically motivated" and designed to damage the party and its president.

"There has been a concerted and malicious effort to link Gerry Adams to this case for some considerable time.

"He has consistently and forthrightly rejected any suggestion that he had any part in what happened to Jean McConville 42 years ago or that he has any information about these dreadful events.

No one has ever been charged with the murder of Ms McConville. But after years without progress in the criminal investigation there have been a series of arrests in recent weeks.

A veteran republican - 77-year-old Ivor Bell - was charged with aiding and abetting the murder in March. Five other people have been detained and questioned.

The recent police activity followed a decision by a US court compelling a Boston university to hand over to the PSNI recorded interviews with republicans about Ms McConville's murder.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

However, some of the contents were passed to authorities after the court last year ordered that tapes that contained claims about the killing be given to detectives.

A PSNI spokesman said last night: "Detectives from the serious crime branch investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972 have arrested a 65-year-old man in Antrim.

The suspect is currently being interviewed by detectives at the serious crime suite in Antrim police station."

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