Sinn Féin casts doubt over support for policing

Tensions rise after judge grants permission for Gerry Adams to be held for further 48 hours

North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: said Sinn Féin support for policing would continue if the situation around Mr Adams’s detention was resolved in a satisfactory manner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: said Sinn Féin support for policing would continue if the situation around Mr Adams’s detention was resolved in a satisfactory manner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Martin McGuinness has warned that Sinn Féin may review its support for policing if the continued detention of Gerry Adams is not resolved satisfactorily.

The political temperature was raised considerably last night after the PSNI was granted permission by a judge to continue questioning the Sinn Féin president for a further 48 hours about the 1972 murder of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

With Mr Adams today being questioned at Antrim police station for the fourth successive day about Ms McConville’s murder, Sinn Féin upped the ante by casting doubt over its continued endorsement of the PSNI.

At a Belfast press conference yesterday evening the Deputy First Minister, Mr McGuinness, said Sinn Féin support for policing would continue if the situation around Mr Adams’s detention was resolved in a satisfactory manner.

“If it doesn’t, we will have to review that situation,” he said.

Amid signs of growing political unease, it also emerged yesterday that British prime minister David Cameron separately telephoned both First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness on Thursday night, urging a calm approach to the current tensions.


Initiative
It was initially thought that Mr McGuinness had made the call. However, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers confirmed yesterday that the initiative was taken by Mr Cameron amid escalating republican anger about Mr Adams’s detention.

Ms Villiers urged leaders to give measured responses after Mr McGuinness again alleged Mr Adams was a victim of “political policing”.

Mr McGuinness also repeated that the arrest was “inextricably linked to the local government and European elections”.

Mr McGuinness also said he had been informed by “very senior members of the PSNI” that there was a “cabal within the PSNI who have a different agenda, a negative and destructive agenda to both the peace process and to Sinn Féin”.

Ms Villiers rejected the “political policing” allegation and added: “The prime minister and I appreciate the sensitivity and seriousness of the situation. That’s why he was engaging with the First and Deputy First Minister to get the message across that working together on those big challenges for Northern Ireland is still the crucially important thing, regardless of the outcome of this case.”


‘Confidence’
Mr McGuinness’s claim of biased, anti-Sinn Féin policing was rejected by politicians in Belfast, Dublin and London, with the Alliance Minister of Justice David Ford speaking outside Antrim police station, where Mr Adams is detained, to dismiss the allegation.

“If there are dark forces within policing I have seen no sign,” he told reporters. “I see a police service which has very high levels of confidence, higher than for the Garda Siochána 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,” he added.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has praised the courage of the children of Jean McConville and urged them to give the names of those they believed were involved in her killing to the PSNI.

“I admire the courage of the McConville children who knew what happened when their mother was taken away from them,” said Mr Kenny.


Giving names
Ms McConville’s son Michael said he was afraid to give information to the PSNI, but his sister Helen McKendry said she was prepared to give names to the PSNI of those she believed were involved.

Asked whether he would urge the McConville family to pass on names to the PSNI, Mr Kenny said he would, and would urge anyone else with information about the killing to pass it on.

“I now expect Gerry Adams, the same as any other citizen of this country, to give full and thorough and comprehensive information about what they know about this notorious murder.”