Sunday 25 March 2018

Adams arrest: Five days that shook politics North and South


Gerry Adams was arrested for questioning by the PSNI in connection with the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

The Louth TD had been in Leinster House for Leader's Questions that afternoon but by 8pm he was in the serious crime suite at Antrim police station.

Mr Adams insisted he had offered to meet the PSNI about "well publicised, malicious allegations" and that he rejected the claims against him.

He and his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald also immediately branded the arrest "politically motivated", coming in the middle of a local and European election campaign.


A political crisis erupted for Sinn Fein as news of Mr Adams' detention spread. Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claimed that "dark forces" in policing had led to the arrest.

Mary Lou McDonald also continued to claim that the arrest was politically motivated, but denied that Mr Adams was "a suspect in a murder case".

The son of murder victim Jean McConville made the chilling admission that he knew who his mother's killers were, but would not tell police for fear of retribution.

Speculation that Mr Adams was on the verge of being released was quashed when he was held by the PSNI for a second night.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other high profile politicians intervened as Sinn Fein moved to heap pressure on the PSNI.

The party had threatened to review its support for policing in the North if Mr Adams was charged. But it was warned by Mr Kenny: "The PSNI is not the RUC. They have a job to do."

Tensions heightened again when it was confirmed that the PSNI had successfully applied to hold Mr Adams for a further 48 hours in custody.


Jean McConville's daughter Helen McKendry said she would speak to lawyers about suing Sinn Fein over her mother's disappearance and murder.

Martin McGuinness continued to up the ante, by claiming that there is a "cabal" within the PSNI that wanted to "settle old scores".

Mr Adams continued to be questioned amid expectation he would be charged or released on Sunday.


Gerry Adams was released after almost 96 hours in police custody, with a file sent to the Public Prosecution Service in the North.

The PSNI said: "A 65-year-old man arrested by detectives investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville has been released pending report to PPS."

Earlier, Martin McGuinness rejected claims by First Minister Peter Robinson that Sinn Fein is trying to blackmail the PSNI.

He said Mr Adams was being questioned because of discredited tapes that were made in Boston by "characters" who vehemently opposed Sinn Fein.

Irish Independent

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