ADAMS RELEASED FOLLOWING 4 DAY DETENTION
05/04/14 11:18 EST

Police in Northern Ireland investigating the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville have released Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

The Louth TD was held in police custody for almost 96 hours under the Terrorism Act after he presented himself at Antrim Serious Crime Suite on Wednesday.

Police were granted extra time to question the 65-year-old on Friday evening.

Before his release Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly was granted access into the police station and spoke with the former west Belfast MP.

He said Mr Adams was "doing fine" but had concerns about the impact his arrest will have on the PSNI's image.

"Like myself and other members of Sinn Féin he believes that the timing of this was political," he said outside the station.

"He's worried about the damage it might be doing to the image of policing and that it's being mishandled in that type of fashion."

He said that during questioning, officers used "open source material" - including the Boston College tapes as well as old pictures, newspaper articles and Mr Adam's autobiography.

Mrs McConville, aged 37 and mother of ten children, was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried over 40 years ago - becoming one of the so-called "Disappeared" victims of the Troubles.

Her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth.

A 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 wrongly suspected of being an informer for the British Army.

Earlier today, First Minister Peter Robinson has condemned Sinn Féin's actions following the arrest of party president Gerry Adams as an "unacceptable" attempt to blackmail the PSNI.

Mr Robinson criticised pressure being put on police to release the Louth TD as "republican bullyboy tactics" and an "obscene politicising of the policing process".

On Saturday, Sinn Féin representatives held a demonstration against Mr Adam's continued detention as a mural of the former West Belfast MP was unveiled.

At a rally in west Belfast on Saturday, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the timing of the arrest ahead of upcoming elections was a "political" move by an "embittered rump of the old RUC" within the PSNI.

He also accused police of "deliberately and cynically exploiting the awful killing of Jean McConville and the grief and hurt of her family."

Mr McGuinness made comments on Friday that the party would "reflect" and "review" its support for policing if Mr Adams is charged.

However, the DUP leader accused Mr McGuinness of "inconsistency" and being "incapable of supporting the PSNI when it comes to the investigation of Mr Adams".

"They must be completely free to follow any and all evidence regardless of where it takes them and to decide free of political considerations whether suspects will be charged or not," Mr Robinson continued.

"I warn Sinn Féin that they have crossed the line and should immediately cease this destructive behaviour. What we need in these circumstances is leadership - it is patently absent in the republican movement."

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson added that he didn't believe the events had caused a political crisis.

NI Justice Minister David Ford and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers have defended the police's handling of the arrest and denied it was politically motivated.


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