Half of voters believe Adams was involved in McConville murder
Poll shows SF would be boosted by new leader
NEARLY half of voters believe Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was involved in the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville, an Irish Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll reveals.
In a damning finding for Mr Adams, the poll shows that less than a quarter of voters believe him when he says that he had no role in the IRA's abduction and murder of Mrs McConville, a widow from Belfast.
The survey also reveals that one in five people would be more likely to vote for Sinn Fein if Mr Adams stepped down as the party's president.
Mr Adams was arrested and held in custody by the PSNI for four days earlier this month as part of the investigation into the murder of Ms McConville, who was kidnapped and shot dead by the Provisional IRA, then secretly buried in Co Louth.
Although Sinn Fein is on course to win seats in all three European election constituencies, 45pc of voters say they believe Mr Adams was involved in the heinous murder in 1972.
But the party's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, continues to back Mr Adams to the hilt, going so far as to describe him as "the outstanding political leader of his generation".
When asked if they believed Mr Adams was in any way involved in the murder of Mrs McConville, 45pc of people polled said he was and 32pc didn't know.
Just 23pc believed that he wasn't involved.
Sinn Fein supporters are most likely to believe Mr Adams' claims of innocence, with 45pc of them saying they didn't think he was involved.
The poll shows that Sinn Fein would benefit from the removal of Mr Adams as leader.
Asked about the likelihood of voting for SF if he stepped down, 22pc of voters said they would be more likely to vote for the party, 16pc said they
would be less likely and 58pc say it would make no difference.
Surprisingly, one in three Sinn Fein supporters would like Mr Adams to resign. Among young voters in the 18-24 category, 29pc would be more likely to support the party if Mr Adams stood down, while in Dublin the figure is 26pc.
Millward Brown interviewed 1,500 people face-to-face at more than 130 sampling points on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In recent days Mr Adams has issued a legal letter to the Irish Independent, attempting to silence our reporting on another investigation.
Lawyers for the Louth TD have demanded an apology over a story relating to his brother, Liam Adams, who is a convicted rapist.
On Wednesday, we reported that the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland is investigating an allegation that Gerry Adams was briefed by police about details of the case against his paedophile brother before he gave evidence against him at trial.
Liam Adams was later found guilty of raping and sexually abusing his daughter and handed a 16-year sentence, half of which he is expected to serve behind bars.
The Sinn Fein president has said he is prepared to complain to the Press Ombudsman about this newspaper and the 'Belfast Telegraph', which also published the story.
The Police Ombudsman's investigation is ongoing.
Sinn Fein's election campaign has been dogged by controversies surrounding Mr Adams but yesterday he dismissed talk of a leadership change while canvassing in Cork.
"People have seen we are the real opposition in this country," he said. "They have seen what we have done in the peace process . . . they have a sense about the policies put forward in health, education and with Mary Lou (McDonald) on the Public Accounts Committee."
Ms McDonald said Mr Adams had successfully helped bring about a peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland and had consistently worked for both reconciliation and understanding.
She dismissed any suggestion of leadership changes and stressed that SF remained united to maximise its vote on May 23.
"Of course we want to be in power. But it is not power for power's sake. We want to be in Government to make a difference to people's lives and to deliver on our policies and promises," the Dublin TD said.
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the party was on the brink of record gains in the forthcoming elections.
Mr Adams, who denies ever being a member of the IRA, continues to claim that he is innocent and that his arrest last month was politically motivated.
"We have two conservative administrations in Dublin and in London. They are also in many ways fixated by the continued growth in support for Sinn Fein across the entire island," he said.
"They are mesmerised by that. That means it makes it easier for elements in the British system, within the PSNI, within unionism, to play dirty tricks."