Gerry Adams reveals details of interrogation by police investigating the 1972 murder of Jean McConville

The police officers who interrogated Gerry Adams over the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville claimed the Sinn Fein leader became an MI5 agent in 1972, according to his own account of the questioning.

Mr Adams, who was arrested on Monday last week and released on Sunday, said “a very serious attempt” was made to charge him with membership of the IRA and through that link him to the killing of Mrs McConville.

But he said that “no new evidential material, indeed no evidence of any kind” was produced by the officers.

Instead Mr Adams said the police went into his “family history of republican activism”, stretching back to his teenage years, and also discussed claims that he was involved in Mrs McConville's death made by former IRA members and others in recordings given to Boston College in the US.

“It was asserted that I was guilty of IRA membership through association because of my family background - my friends. They referred to countless pieces of 'open source' material that, they said, linked me to the IRA,” he wrote in a column for The Guardian.

“These were anonymous newspaper articles from 1971 and 1972, photographs of Martin McGuinness and me at republican funerals, and books about the period.

”If any of these claimed I was in the IRA, then that was, according to my interrogators, evidence. They consistently cast up my habit of referring to friends as 'comrades'. This, they said, was evidence of IRA membership.“

He then added: ”They claimed I was turned by Special Branch during interrogations in Belfast's Palace Barracks in 1972 and that I became an MI5 agent!“

Mr Adams dismissed the Boston tapes, saying they had been ”totally discredited“.

”These former Republicans have accused us of betrayal and have said we should be shot because of our support for the Good Friday agreement and policing,“ he said of the people who made the recordings.

Mr Adams said when he arrived at the police station he was accused of IRA membership and conspiracy in the murder of Mrs McConville. He went on to give 33 taped interviews.

He also said that private consultations with his solicitor may have been ”covertly recorded“.

Mr Adams said his arrest and the ”very serious attempt“ to charge him with IRA membership was ”damaging to the peace process and the political institutions“.

”It is part of a sustained malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign going back many years,“ he said.

”I am innocent of any involvement in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville, or of IRA membership.

“I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, but I am not uncritical of IRA actions and particularly the terrible injustice inflicted on Mrs McConville and her family. I very much regret what happened to them and their mother and understand the antipathy they feel towards republicans.”

Mrs McConville, who was a 37-year-old widow from Belfast, was among the group of victims known as the Disappeared.

Sixteen people were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.

Her body was found 31 years after her death, by a man walking on a beach in County Louth.

Mr Adams said the past should be dealt with but the “focus” should be on the future.

“There are powerful vested interests who have not bought into the peace process. Obstacles will be erected, but we must build the peace and see off sinister forces against equality and justice for everyone,” he added.

No one at the Police Service of Northern Ireland was available for comment on Wednesday night.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste