Adams threatened McConville son with 'backlash' if he named killers
A SON of IRA murder victim Jean McConville said Gerry Adams threatened him with a "backlash" if he released the names of those he believed were responsible for the killing.
Michael McConville has said his family's fight for justice will go on after the Sinn Fein president was freed, but has also outlined his fears if he discloses the identities of suspects to police.
Mr Adams (65) was released from Antrim police station on Sunday, pending a report being sent to prosecutors, after four days of questioning about the notorious 1972 killing of the mother-of-10 and other alleged links with the IRA.
Mr McConville yesterday told the BBC of a conversation he allegedly had with Mr Adams about the suspects in the killing.
"Gerry Adams says to me, 'Michael, you are getting a letter of support from the republican people'. He says, 'if you release the names I hope you are ready for the backlash'.
"I took it as a threat."
Mr Adams has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he ordered the abduction and killing under investigation – denials he repeated after he was released from police custody.
Mr McConville alleged the "threat" was made around the time a report was being finalised by the North's then police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan into claims that his mother was an informer.
The Sinn Fein president had brokered a series of meetings between him and members of the IRA.
Mr McConville said he used to tell Mr Adams what had happened in the meetings and warned him that he would release the names of those involved if Ms O'Loan's report was disputed.
At that point he said the "backlash" was mentioned.
Mr McConville said that "could" have meant a backlash against the peace process but said he took it to mean the "backlash from republican people".
Mr McConville last week described watching his mother being dragged in fear from her home in Divis flats in west Belfast by people who he recognised. He never saw her again.
But he said he was too afraid to give the names of the perpetrators in case he or his family were shot in revenge.
Speaking at a press conference following his release, Mr Adams again said he was innocent of any involvement in the murder of Ms McConville.
Mr Adams said he made himself available to talk to police following a "sustained, malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign" against him alleging his involvement in Ms McConville's death.
Meanwhile, the UK government's Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, said yesterday: "I have huge sympathy for the McConville family. It's a terrible tragedy for them and obviously it's a concern if they were threatened in any way.
"I think the devolution settlement and the peace process is fundamentally sound. It's delivered real political stability."
She added: "I think the public prosecution service is capable of making this decision and I'm sure that it will be made on the basis of an objective assessment of the law and the facts.
"I'm certain that neither the PPS or the Attorney General or the police would be swayed by political pressure from any side."