Gerry Adams’s detention for 1972 murder questioning extended by 48 hours

SF leader can now be held until 8pm on Sunday, four days after detention began

Boston College researcher Ed Moloney Moloney has said it could be difficult to link Gerry Adams to the killing of Jean McConville given that Boston project participants Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, have both died. Video: Reuters

Fri, May 2, 2014, 19:53

Gerry Adams’s period of detention for questioning over the murder of Jean McConville in 1972 has been extended for another 48 hours.

Police in Northern Ireland had sought to extend the detention of the Sinn Féin leader after he had already been held since Wednesday evening.

Mr Adams can now be held until 8pm on Sunday, a full four days after his detention began.

An application to extend the Sinn Féin president’s detention was made to a Belfast court by the PSNI at 4.30pm today.

A senior member of the investigating team at the police serious crime suite at the Antrim PSNI base where Mr Adams is being held gave evidence to the court by video-link.

The PSNI had until this afternoon to seek court approval for an extension to questioning Mr Adams beyond 8pm this evening.

Mr Adams can be held for a maximum of 28 days, but no one has been detained for anything like that length of time under the legislation.

Detectives who have been questioning Mr Adams require court approval to detain him for more than 48 hours.

That approval has to be sought and given in advance of the 48-hour time limit.

It is further understood that an application should be made within normal court hours.

Officers at Antrim police station have been questioning the Sinn Féin leader since Wednesday about the killing of Jean McConville in 1972.

Party colleague and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he believed Mr Adams will be “totally and absolutely exonerated” in the matter.

Mr McGuinness also repeated accusations that the decision by police to arrest Mr Adams was politically motivated.

“There is a cabal in the PSNI that have an agenda, a negative and destructive agenda to both the peace process and to Sinn Féin.

The former IRA commander said it may be difficult to contain anger among Irish nationalists about the arrest.

“We believe that the anger and resentment out there among the community is something we as Irish republicans have to manage. We are trying to handle this situation in a very calm way,” Mr McGuinness said.

However, Stormont Minister for Justice David Ford has rejected Mr McGuinness’s assessment.

“It is not for me to comment on the [Adams] issue. That is to be taken by the police, to be taken by them on the basis of the information available to them in circumstances with the involvement of the judiciary – it’s certainly not something I should comment on.”

“I have seen no evidence in the four years that I have been Minister [for Justice] of policing being operated on a political basis. I have certainly seen plenty of evidence of politicians of different backgrounds seeking to interfere in policing.

“If there are dark forces within policing I have seen no sign. I see a police service which has very high levels of confidence, higher than for the Garda Síochána or nearly any force in GB, and I see a police force that is carrying out its duties properly and appropriately, following up evidential opportunities when they present themselves and co-operating with the community across a range of issues.”