Wednesday 18 January 2017

PSNI hit back at Adams criticism that arrest was 'unfair and inappropriate'

Published 06/05/2014 | 15:52

Chief Constable of the PSNI Matt Baggott
Chief Constable of the PSNI Matt Baggott

Northern Ireland's chief constable has said criticism of his force's arrest of Gerry Adams was unfair and inappropriate.

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The Sinn Fein president was questioned for four days at Antrim police station by detectives investigating the 1972 murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief Matt Baggott said it would have been wrong to treat Mr Adams any differently from anybody else.

Sinn Fein has claimed there is a "dark side" opposed to the peace process within the police force and blamed an embittered rump left over from far-reaching reforms for their leader's detention.

Mr Baggott said: "Questioning the motivation or impartiality of police officers tasked with investigating serious crime in this very public, generalised and vague manner is both unfair and inappropriate.

"The arrest and questioning of Mr Adams was legitimate and lawful and an independent judge subsequently decided that there were grounds for further detention."

His remarks came as Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson said his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had been on the verge of putting a motion before the power-sharing Assembly calling for Sinn Fein's exclusion from the ruling Executive.

It was considered following comments made by senior republicans - including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness - that they might review their support for the police if their leader was charged.

Mr Robinson said he stopped short of the move when Sinn Fein "corrected" its position - a reference to Mr Adams' statement of support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) upon his release from custody on Sunday.

Mr Baggott refuted any suggestion that there was a dark side to policing.

He said under reforms to the police force which faced paramilitaries during Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), there were numerous ways in which policing concerns could be addressed.

They include the Human Rights Commission, the Policing Board made up of political and independent members and an ombudsman who investigates complaints.

Mr Baggott added that decisions on whether or not to prosecute were made independently by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

"In a democracy, the police are tasked with following the evidence without fear or favour and in accordance with the law.

"The PSNI are committed to doing so regardless of any undue pressures. It would have been wrong to treat Mr Adams any differently to other citizens."

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