Gerry Adams will be back on campaign trail for elections, says Sinn Fein
GERRY Adams will this week come face to face with Irish political leaders who have strongly criticised Sinn Fein's attack on the motives of the PSNI.
He is due to represent Sinn Fein at leaders' questions in the Dail tomorrow amid concerns among the party's politicians that his arrest will damage the party's electoral prospects.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have rejected Sinn Fein's claims of collusion between the PSNI and unionist elements in Mr Adams' arrest.
A Sinn Fein spokesman last night insisted that Mr Adams was "looking forward to getting back to business" and would now focus on the election campaign.
But the coming weeks are sure to be overshadowed by issues surrounding his arrest and questioning in connection with a brutal murder.
In the North, the events of recent days have led to bitter tensions between Sinn Fein and unionist politicians.
The political temperature was further raised last night after First Minister Peter Robinson accused Sinn Fein of engaging in "thuggish" and "bullyboy" tactics.
Mr Robinson said Sinn Fein figures had tried to blackmail the PSNI – a charge fervently denied by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
"We absolutely, unequivocally support the police services North and South but we have a difficulty," Mr McGuinness said.
"We have a difficulty because we are aware – not alone are we aware, we are told by senior officers in the PSNI, who are good people, who fully support the peace process, who want the peace process to succeed – that there is a tiny number of people in influential positions within the police in the North who are hostile to Sinn Fein's part in the political institutions."
Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble said he did not believe that Mr Adams's arrest had damaged the peace process.
"In itself, it hasn't done anything (to the peace process) because normal processes are taking place," he told Sky News.
Without doubt, the events of recent days have at least seriously strained relations between Sinn Fein and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Nevertheless, a leading Sinn Fein figure, Gerry Kelly MLA, said the party still believed in the PSNI, despite its threat to review that support.
He added: "We are in policing because we believe in the new dispensation of policing. If the policing which we see is wrong, then we will speak out against that."