Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has spent a night in custody in Northern Ireland after being arrested in connection with the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.
McConville, a 37-year-old widowed mother of ten, was kidnapped in front of her children for allegedly informing on the IRA. But this accusation was later dismissed following an official investigation.
She was counted among Northern Ireland’s so-called “Disappeared”, the name given to people abducted, murdered and secretly buried by Republicans during the Troubles.
Some 16 names are listed among the “Disappeared”. Seven of them have never been found.
Jean McConville’s body was retrieved a beach in Adams’ constituency of County Louth in 2003.
Speaking prior to his arrest, Adams said:
“First of all I’m going voluntarily to talk to the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) because there has been a lengthy, malicious campaign against me. I will tell the PSNI that I am innocent totally, of any part in the abduction, killing and the burial of Jean McConville. I do have concerns about the timing, you know I volunteered to meet with them, I said I was ready to meet with them, I do have concerns in the middle of an election about the timing but I have tried to work at building the peace.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron refuted suggestions from senior Sinn Féin leaders that the arrest was politically motivated and timed to coincide with local and European elections.
But Sinn Féin member and Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said ‘the dark side’ of Northern Ireland policing was responsible for Adams’ arrest.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has praised the police for their action, saying:
“It strengthens our political process in Northern Ireland for people to know that no one is above the law, everyone is equal under the law and everyone is equally subject to the law.”
Ivor Bell, a leader in the Provisional IRA was last month charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.