Adams refuses to reveal his role in IRA murder

Northern Ireland Gerry Adams hit back yesterday at "anti-republican elements" pursuing him over the death of a woman at the hands of the IRA and said he would not give details of his role during the armed group's campaign.

The Sinn Fein leader claimed critics were trying to stop the development of the party and said he was proud to have been part of the "struggle".

Former senior IRA commander Brendan Hughes claimed that the West Belfast MP ordered the death of Jean McConville in 1972 for allegedly informing to the British authorities.

Mr Adams told an Easter commemoration in Belfast: "During this phase of the struggle some of us had to leave our families and homes, go on the run, adapt many ruses, go under false names. We relied totally on the support of the people to protect us. And we, in turn, protected the people as best we could. We did not divulge their names, their roles, their actions.

Mr Adams has consistently denied claims that he was involved in the murder of Mrs McConville. The IRA has admitted killing and burying the woman, whose body was only found in 2003.

An investigation by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in 2006 found no evidence that Mrs McConville had passed information to the security forces.