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.

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