05/02/14 07:17 EST

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has spent a second night in police custody and will face further questioning about the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast widow Jean McConville.

Mr Adams presented himself voluntarily at Antrim police station on Wednesday night where he was then arrested and questioned under caution by detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch.

Police have until 8pm today to question the former West Belfast MP. At that point they have to either release, charge or apply for additional time to interview the Louth TD.

Veteran republican - 77-year-old Ivor Bell - was charged in March with aiding and abetting the murder and five others have been detained and questioned.

The recent police activity followed a decision by a US court compelling a Boston university to hand over to the PSNI recorded interviews with republicans about Mrs McConville's murder.

Mr Adams has always strenuously denied allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he had any involvement in the murder of Mrs McConville, who was suspected of being an informer for the British Army.

In March, the 65-year-old said he would be willing to meet with police for their investigation.

His arrest on Wednesday sparked outrage from Sinn Féin who said the move was "politically motivated".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it was an example of the "dark side" of policing trying to flex its muscles.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Peter Robinson both rejected their claims.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers revealed Prime Minister David Cameron spoke separately with both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness about the arrest.

She said: "We must leave the timing of arrests to police and they have to act on the evidence available to them. I do not think it is fair really, to ask them to take on board the political time table and indeed if they did they could be accused of exactly the type of political policing Martin McGuinness has accused them of now."

Following the arrest there has been criticism levelled at the British Government that it is more concerned with the crimes of others committed during the Troubles rather than those who perpetrated state crimes.

Ms Villiers added: "It's for the PSNI to pursue law-breakers whether they are members of the security forces or not and indeed the PSNI is investigating some members of security forces."

"This is a government that doesn't believe in amnesties and if crimes have been committed those individuals concerned should subjected to due process of law regardless if they are members of the security force or not."

She added: "I recognise the difficulties in this case and have engaged with the first ministers and would urge everyone to respond in a measured way. Whatever the outcome there are still problems to be fixed in Northern Ireland and the best way to do that is by the political parties working together."

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