Adams claims he faced 'malicious' campaign

Gerry Adams said he made himself available to talk to police following a “sustained, malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign” against him alleging his involvement in a notorious IRA murder.

Speaking at a press conference following his release from custody after four days of questioning about the killing of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville, the Sinn Fein president said he was “concerned about the timing” when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) contacted his solicitor on Monday afternoon.

But Mr Adams, who prompted cheers from those in the room before he made his statement, asserted his support for the PSNI, saying: “I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI.”

Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny had spoken earlier in the day to discuss the situation surrounding Mr Adams' arrest, but would not give any further details of the call.

Mr Adams exited an Antrim Police station through a rear exit while angry loyalist protesters waved Union flags and staged a sit down protest in front of the heavily fortified station.

A file will be sent to prosecutors by detectives who have questioned him over the murder of Mrs McConville.

The move means the ultimate decision whether to charge the 65-year-old politician with any offence will be made by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) at a later date after reviewing evidence presented by police.

Mr Adams has always vehemently denied allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered the murder of the 37-year-old widow in 1972.

Mr Adams, who read his statement in Irish before reading it in English, thanked everyone for the support he had been shown, adding: ``I am conscious that there is another family at the heart of all of this and that is the family of Jean McConville.

“Let me very clear – I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy to abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville.

“I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed and for the return of the bodies of others killed during the conflict and secretly buried by the IRA, and I will continue to do so.”

The Sinn Fein president said he voluntarily went to Antrim Barracks on Wednesday, having contacted the PSNI two months ago to tell them he was available to meet with them.

He said his willingness to speak to police was “following yet another spate of media speculation – part of a sustained, malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign alleging involvement by me in the killing of Mrs Jean McConville”.

He added: “When the PSNI contacted my solicitor on Monday afternoon I was concerned about the timing, given that Sinn Fein is involved in a very important European election and local government elections across the island of Ireland.”

Mr Adams said those who authorised his arrest and detention ``could have done it differently''.

He said: “They had discretion, they did not have to use pernicious, coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue even one as serious as this, which I was voluntarily prepared to deal with.

“They did not have to do this in the middle of an election campaign. Remember I contacted them two months ago.”

Mr Adams said “the old guard” cannot win.

“I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI, I will continue to work with others to build a genuinely civic police service. The old guard which is against change, whether in the PSNI leadership, within elements of unionism or the far fringes of self-proclaimed but pseudo republicanism, they can’t win.

“The dark side of the British system cannot be allowed to deny anyone, any of our people, Catholic, Protestant or dissenter, from our entitlement to a rights-based, citizen-centred society as set out in the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

Mr Adams also asserted his republican beliefs and said the IRA is “finished”.

He said: “I’m an Irish republican, I want to live in a peaceful Ireland based on equality. I have never dissociated myself from the IRA and I never will.

“But I am glad that I and others have created a peaceful and democratic way forward for everyone. The IRA is gone, it is finished.”

The Sinn Fein president spoke about what the police questioned him on.

“During my interrogation much was made by my interrogators about my time in the 60s, in civil rights campaigns, my arrest and detention in Palace Barracks in the early 70s, my detention in Long Kesh, even the peace talks in 1972.

“Newspaper articles, photographs of myself and Martin McGuinness at republican funerals were produced, books and other open-sourced material was used as the basis of many of the accusations made against me,” he said.

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