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Saturday 30 August 2014

Detectives granted extension to question Adams as SF threatens to review PSNI support

Greg Harkin

Published 02/05/2014 | 14:07

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Gerry Adams is being questioned by detectives investigating the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville
Gerry Adams is being questioned by detectives investigating the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville
Jean McConville
Antrim Police Station, where Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is being questioned by police over the death mother-of-10 Jean McConville

POLICE have been given another 48 hours to quiz Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams about the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville.

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Mr Adams, 65, was arrested at 8pm on Wednesday after going to a police station by arrangement.

The period of detention of the former MP for West Belfast and sitting TD for Louth had been due to expire at 8pm but this evening a judge gave the PSNI another 48 hours to question him.

He has spent two nights in the cells and being quizzed about claims made by two deceased republicans that he had ordered Mrs McConville’s abduction and murder in December 1972.

Meanwhile, two senior republicans have refused to give statements in the past 24 hours to the PSNI implicating Gerry Adams in IRA activity, independent.ie has learned today.

As the Sinn Fein leader continues to be questioned by detectives at Antrim PNSI base, we have learned that officers asked for statements from Evelyn Gilroy and Peter Rodgers.

Both have made claims in the past few weeks about Adams.

Rodgers told the Sunday Independent that Adams had ordered him to take unsafe explosive material to Britain for a bombing campaign there.

When asked to give a statement to police on his claims, sources close to Rodgers say he refused.

A close friend of Gilroy, a former internee and veteran republican, says she was also asked for a statement implicating Adams in IRA activity. She also refused despite telling the Sunday Life paper 10 days ago that Adams should be arrested.

Gilroy was an active republican in Divis flats where Jean McConville was abducted in December 1972.

Evelyn Gilroy had said on April 24: "I'm speaking out for the first time because I'm very angry that grassroots republicans are being arrested.

"Police have lifted people who were 15 and 16 at the time of the killing, yet Gerry Adams remains untouched. I'm disgusted that ordinary republicans are being put through the mill for his actions.

"It defies belief that he hasn't been arrested. The police should stop chasing those who were never in a position in the republican movement to order Jean McConville's execution and instead arrest the only person who was in that position -- Gerry Adams.

"He has got away with so much over the years. He now seems to be getting away with this as well. It will be a disgrace if ordinary people end up carrying the can for what he did."

But Gilroy has refused to provide an affidavit backing up her claims.

Republican sources have expressed ‘astonishment’ that potential witnesses were approached for statements after Mr Adams arrest.

Gerry Adams remains in police custody this afternoon, being questioned about the murder of Jean McConville. The Louth TD has always denied any involvement in the killing.

Meanwhile Martin McGuinness has indicated that Sinn Fein would review its support for policing in Northern Ireland if party leader Gerry Adams is charged by detectives investigating the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

Stormont's Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein veteran said he and colleagues would not be making a "knee-jerk" decision but suggested they would "reflect" on their endorsement of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) if such a situation came to pass.

Mr McGuinness raised the spectre of what would be a huge blow to the peace process in the region as he said it was his understanding police were applying to a judge to extend the period of time they can question Mr Adams at Antrim police station.

Asked if Sinn Fein would withdraw support for policing if Mr Adams is ultimately charged, Mr McGuinness said: "We are very thoughtful and we are very reflective but I think if such a scenario does develop then we will sit down and we will reflect on what will be an even more serious situation than the one we face today."

With the initial 48-hour deadline looming for officers to either charge or release Mr Adams after his arrest on Wednesday night, the PSNI is to apply for an extension, the Deputy First Minister claimed.

Adams, 65, who vehemently denies allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered Mrs McConville's murder and secret burial in 1972, could potentially face a third night in custody.

Mr Adams, a former MP for West Belfast and now an elected representative for Co Louth in the Irish Dail, voluntarily presented himself for interview at the station by prior arrangement with detectives.

The Deputy First Minister said: "Yesterday I said that the timing of the arrest of Gerry Adams was politically-motivated.

"Today's decision by the PSNI to seek an extension confirms me in my view."

Sinn Fein's decision to sign up to support the police in 2007 is viewed as a major milestone in the peace process and prompted the return to devolved rule in the region, with the republican party and the Democratic Unionists entering government together.

Mr McGuinness has accused a "cabal" within the PSNI of being behind the arrest of Mr Adams with the intent of damaging the peace process and inflicting political scars on Sinn Fein in the month of an election.

Asked if Sinn Fein's support for policing could potentially be withdrawn, Mr McGuinness told a media conference at the party's headquarters in west Belfast: "Obviously in the context of the scenario we find ourselves in at the minute we will have to, on an ongoing basis, monitor this situation where our party leader is being detained and I think you can draw your own conclusions.

"Depending on what happens this scenario will either be resolved in a satisfactory way, in which case we will continue to press on, continue to support the reformers within policing who have made, I think, such a massive contribution to the change of the policing arrangements that we have enjoyed in the course of recent times or the situation will not work out in the way we believe that it should.

"If it doesn't, we will have to review that situation and we will have to review that situation in the context of continuing with our very positive and constructive role within what is a vitally important peace process."

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