Sinn Féin claims of ‘political policing’ dismissed

Gerry Adams spends second night in custody in connection with Jean McConville murder

Gerry Adams: the Sinn Féin president was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 and technically could be held for up to 28 days. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Gerry Adams: the Sinn Féin president was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 and technically could be held for up to 28 days. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin claims that Gerry Adams is a victim of “political policing” have been dismissed by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, British prime minister David Cameron and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.

The party’s complaints that his arrest in connection with the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville was designed to damage the party’s prospects in the European and local elections were also rejected.

Mr Adams was spending his second night in custody at Antrim police station last night following his arrest by prior arrangement on Wednesday.

Mr Adams was arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 and technically could be held for up to 28 days. If questioning is to continue beyond 8pm today, the PSNI must seek authorisation from a judge, who must also decide how many additional days he can be held.


Three options
The police essentially have three options. They could charge him in connection with the murder; they could release him pending a report to the North’s Public Prosecution Service, which also means he could face prosecution; or they could release him unconditionally.

Mr Adams has repeatedly denied any involvement in the abduction, murder and secret burial of Ms McConville, a widowed mother of 10 children and one of the so-called Disappeared. Her body was finally found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003.

His arrest follows the charging in March of veteran republican Ivor Bell, formerly a close associate of Mr Adams, for allegedly aiding and abetting Ms McConville’s murder.

Several senior republicans including Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald, TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and MP Conor Murphy alleged or raised questions about Mr Adams being a victim of “political policing” just as Sinn Féin was riding high in the polls before voting in the local and European elections.

The strongest comments came from Mr McGuinness, who claimed “the dark side of policing” was implicated in the decision to arrest Mr Adams.


‘Deliberate attempt’
“I view his arrest as a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the elections due to take place all over this island in three weeks,” he said.

Sinn Féin disclosed that Mr McGuinness raised the issue of Mr Adams’s arrest in a phone call with the Mr Cameron last night. In complaining about the arrest, he referred to double standards being applied to investigations when it came to killings carried out by the British army and RUC.

But First Minister Peter Robinson said it would have been “political policing” if Mr Adams had not been questioned.

Mr Kenny said parties in the South played no part in his arrest. “I hope . . . Deputy Adams answers in the best way that he can, the fullest extent that he can, the questions being asked about a live murder investigation by the PSNI,” he added.