Gerry Adams complains to PSNI over his arrest

Sinn Féin leader says his rights were ‘contravened on at least two occasions’

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has refused to outline the formal complaint he made to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) about aspects of his "interrogation" last week, but has said it related to a belief that his rights were "contravened on at least two occasions" during his detention in Antrim.

Mr Adams was released on Sunday night after four days of questioning by detectives about the 1972 murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville by the IRA.

The former West Belfast MP has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he ordered her abduction and death, and after his release described his arrest as a “sham”.

He said he made one complaint before he left the barracks, and this was now with the Police Ombudsman, and that he was minded to make a second but he needed to consult with his solicitor, who may have seen other issues, and review the entire process.


Speaking at the launch of Sinn Fein’s European election campaign in Dublin, Mr Adams said his complaints were not outlined in an article published in The Guardian today.

“I went voluntarily to be interrogated and I don’t have any complaints about any of those issues [outlined in the article],” he said. “There are two particular matters…These go automatically to the Ombudsman but I think in fairness to the Ombudsman that they would be far better having them in writing from me as opposed to the media.”

He said the fact he was arrested outside the police station was “not an issue either”.

“The issue is I have rights. Any complaint I will make will be in terms of what I would contend are the contravention of my rights and the ombudsman can make up his mind about that. It isn’t the style or any of these provocative things that were said, not at all.”

Mr Adams said he could not understand why such a big deal was being made of the complaint in the media.

In the article for the Guardian, Mr Adams said that before he was interviewed he was told that there was “new evidential material” and that he was being accused of conspiracy to murder Mrs McConville.

Mr Adams said he was told the police would be outlining a case that he was a member of the IRA, had a senior managerial role within the organisation in Belfast at the time of Mrs McConville’s abduction and that he was therefore bound to know about her killing.

He wrote: “Over the following four days it became clear that the objective was to get to the point where they could charge me with IRA membership and thereby link me to the McConville case. The membership charge was clearly their principal goal.”

Mr Adams said police assertions that he was an IRA member were based on his family background and anonymous newspaper articles from 1971 and 1972, “photographs of Martin McGuinness and me at republican funerals, and books about the period”.

He claimed police suggested he had been recruited by police Special Branch and that he became an agent for MI5.

Mr Adams 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.”

He condemned his arrest as an assault on the peace process and said that during his interrogation no new evidential material was produced, or evidence of any kind.

Mr Adams said: “When I was being released I made a formal complaint about aspects of my interrogation. My arrest and the very serious attempt to charge me with IRA membership is damaging to the peace process and the political institutions.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Mr Adams said he made the complaint about “one aspect” of his interrogation with which he was “entirely dissatisfied”.

There was “another aspect” which he intends to complain about, he said. When he volunteered to go to Antrim barracks a senior officer told Mr Adams he was compelled under legislation to meet outside the barracks and arrest him, he said.

He also criticised the project by Boston College in America, in which former IRA members Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, both now dead, claimed on tape that Mr Adams had a role in ordering the murder of Mrs McConville.

He rejected these allegations, which he said were “now totally discredited”, and said the those behind the project were opponents of the Sinn Féin leadership.

(Additional reporting: PA)

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is an Assistant News Editor with The Irish Times