Gerry Adams slams ‘malicious and sinister’ arrest over 1972 murder of Jean McConville
Released Sinn Fein president criticises senior police officers but says the PSNI still has his support
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Sunday 04 May 2014
Gerry Adams hit out at the “old guard” within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) when he was released after being questioned for four days about a notorious IRA murder in 1972.
But he also offered his support to the PSNI as a force, and repeatedly emphasised that his arrest should not undermine the peace process at a press briefing.
“Those who authorised my arrest could have done it differently,” he said.
“They didn’t have to use pernicious coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue, even one as serious as this which I was voluntarily prepared to deal with. They didn’t have to do it in the middle of an election campaign.”
He said the arrest was a result of the “old guard using the old methods”. Prosecutors will now decide whether the Sinn Fein president is to face charges.
Mr Adams’s detention at a police interrogation facility near Belfast had threatened to destabilise the Irish peace process, with republicans denouncing it as “political policing”.
Officers questioned Mr Adams about the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who was abducted and buried by the IRA, who kept her body hidden for decades. It is thought he was also interrogated about allegations of IRA membership.
“I want to make it clear I support the PSNI,” Mr Adams continued. “The old guard is against change. Whether it is within the PSNI leadership, within elements of unionism or the far fringes of self-proclaimed but pseudo republicanism, they can’t win.”
He said it was “crucial” to ensure that he was seen to be treated fairly and in the same way as others, saying that “to send any other signal is to encourage the bigots”.
He said he was “innocent of any part in a conspiracy to abduct, kill and bury Mrs McConville”.
He said the allegations against him were based “almost exclusively on hearsay”.
Mr Adams, flanked by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, said that while the past needs to be dealt with, “there can be no going back”.
“Peace needs to be built with determination... That remains my attention, my commitment and Sinn Fein’s constant endeavour.”
Mr Adams described the campaign against him as “malicious” and “sinister”. But he said the IRA “had gone, it is finished” and said what had happened “could not be allowed” to undermine peace in Northern Ireland. Mr Adams has always denied involvement with the IRA.
A report detailing the evidence gathered by police will now be sent to the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPS). It will be up to PPS lawyers to decide if there is enough evidence to bring any charges, and what those charges would be.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, announced that he has excused himself from involvement in the case, since he had in the past acted as Mr Adams’s lawyer.
Mr Adams was arrested last week when he presented himself at the police facility, knowing that detectives were carrying out wide-ranging inquiries in the McConville murder.
On Friday a judge approved a police request to hold the republican for an extra 48 hours for further questioning.
Sinn Fein claimed the arrest was part of a campaign by “an embittered rump of police officers” to settle old scores. Some republican statements were taken as a threat to reconsider the party’s support for policing. The party denied it had made any such threats but said there was “a growing anger with every hour” that Mr Adams was held.
Meanwhile, Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s fight for justice would continue.
“The McConville family is going to stay to the bitter end until we get justice,” he said.
Speaking before the release took place, Democratic Unionist party leader and First Minister Peter Robinson said threats to reassess attitudes to policing was “a despicable, thuggish attempt to blackmail the police.”
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...