Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has claimed “unionist elements” combined with the “old guard” in the PSNI led to SF president Gerry Adams’ arrest last night.
The PSNI arrested the Louth TD in connection to the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville in 1972.
Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme earlier today, Ms McDonald said Adams had been in contact with PSNI officers investigating the case since March.
She said Sinn Fein have no issue with the arrest, but do take issue with its timing.
Ms McDonald said the arrest of the party’s president came as no surprise.
“Gerry had been in contact with the PSNI about five weeks ago, I think it was the 23rd of March.
“He was in touch with them on the basis that there had been an awful lot of commentary, an awful lot of malicious commentary in terms of himself in respect to the death of Jean McConville.
“And he wrote to the PSNI and he made clear at that point he was available to speak to them.
“In that sense, it’s not a surprise. Gerry, voluntarily, wished to speak to the PSNI. He made very very clear to them he was available to do so.
“Then the approach was made, the appointment was set and as you reported, Gerry is currently speaking to them.
“The difficulty is this, and our concern and our complaint is the timing of all of this.
“I mean the PSNI had ample time since the 23rd of March to make this arrangement with Gerry, for him to go to them voluntarily and to speak to them and assist them.
“And yet we find ourselves now in the middle of campaigns north and south and the time, so far as we’re concerned, is politically contrived.”
When quizzed by Claire Byrne as to how it was ‘politically contrived’, Ms McDonald replied: “For some time now, certainly within the north, elements within the DUP, elements within a party called Traditionalist Unionist Voice, have been shouting very loudly and looking for an arrest of Gerry Adams.
“They have been doing this, let me state this very clearly, not out of deep concern for victims but rather because they wish to exact a level of political damage on Sinn Fein, particularly on Gerry himself.”
Ms McDonald stressed that the PSNI was “not the RUC”.
“We are realistic to know that there are still elements of the ‘old guard’ within the service.”
She said both elements “co-elesced” around the timing of this.
She also said that the question of “political malice” did not apply to the Republic.
Last night, Gerry Adams told RTE: “I do not dissociate myself from the IRA and I never will.
“I’m thankful that I and others have played some role in taking the gun out of Irish politics.”
This morning, Ms McDonald said that has “always been Gerry’s position”.
She said she could “only surmise” the basis of Gerry Adams’ arrest” has “its roots in what is known as the Boston Tapes, undertaken by individuals that are no fans of the Peace Process or of Gerry Adams”.
The late republican Brendan Hughes, who spoke as part of the project, was “clearly unapologetically opposed tooth and nail to the Peace Process and regarded it as a sell-out”.
Mr Hughes alleged that Gerry Adams ordered the kidnapping of Ms McConville, something which Mr Adams has always denied.
It is unclear when Mr Adams will be released from police custody from Antrim Police Station – he can be held for up to 48 hours, Ms McDonald said.
She concluded the interview by saying the party will continue on with their election campaigning today and look forward to seeing Mr Adams released from custody.