Sinn Féin must clarify position on policing says Peter Robinson
Gerry Adams remarks on PSNI interpreted as attempt to ease political tensions
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson: “I don’t think the arrest and questioning does any harm. That indicates that nobody is above the law.” Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Peter Robinson has said Sinn Féin must clarify its position on support for policing.
The DUP leader and First Minister is maintaining pressure on Martin McGuinness who suggested at the weekend the party would have to reconsider its backing for the police following the detention of Gerry Adams.
“I don’t think the arrest and questioning does any harm,” Mr Robinson said. “That indicates that nobody is above the law.
“What is damaging is that people show some equivocation or qualification in terms of their support for policing.”
The DUP leader said Sinn Féin had “crossed a line” by qualifying support for the PSNI and could be in breach of the Ministerial Code at Stormont which demands backing for policing and the administration of justice.
Illustrating the high levels of tension Sinn Féin has said that Gerry Adams and former IRA senior figure Bobby Storey, who addressed a weekend rally in support of the Sinn Féin president, have received fresh death threats from “criminal elements”.
The Deputy First Minister said at that rally, 24 hours before Mr Adams was released, that Sinn Féin may have to reconsider its support for the police because of the detention of his party leader.
The remarks helped spark a flurry of activity among senior British and Irish Ministers to ease political pressure on the administration of policing in Northern Ireland.
Mr Adams, speaking in west Belfast following his release without charge, appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone and insisted his party still backed the PSNI. He insisted those who ordered his arrest “could have done it differently”.
“I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI,” he said.
“I will continue to work with others to build a genuinely civic policing service. The old guard which is against change whether in the PSNI leadership, within unionism or the far fringes of republicanism, or the dark side of the British system cannot be allowed to deny any of the people – Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter – from our entitlement to a rights-based, citizen-centred society as set out in the Good Friday agreement.”
With a file on Mr Adams now due for consideration by the Public Prosecution Service, Mr Robinson said the PPS must not be intimidated.
“Whether there is a charge of course is a matter for the PPS and I really do hope they won’t allow themselves to be intimidated in any way by the threats and bluster from Sinn Féin.”
DUP sources have indicated privately they drew a distinction between Mr McGuinness’s remarks on Saturday and Mr Adams’s on Sunday which they interpret as less equivocal on the question of PSNI support.