Gerry Adams arrested by police investigating McConville case

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has been arrested by detectives investigating the murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Detectives from the serious crime branch investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972 have arrested a 65-year-old man in Antrim.

"The suspect is currently being interviewed by detectives at the serious crime suite in Antrim police station."

Mr Adams, who has vehemently rejected the allegations made by former republican colleagues that he had a role in ordering the notorious IRA killing in 1972, voluntarily presented himself for interview at a police station in Antrim.

No one has ever been charged with the murder. But after years without progress in the criminal investigation there have been a series of arrests in recent weeks.

A veteran republican - 77-year-old Ivor Bell - was charged last month with aiding and abetting the murder.

In the wake of the recent developments in the case, last month Mr Adams, who has always denied membership of the IRA, said he would be available to meet with detectives if they wished to speak with him.

Mr Adams, 65, a former MP for West Belfast and now a TD for Co Louth, presented himself at Antrim police station by prior arrangement with officers.

He issued a statement minutes after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced an arrest had been made.

"Last month I said that I was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case," he said.

"While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening.

"As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville.

"I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.

"Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.

"While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville."

Mrs McConville, a widow, was dragged away from her children in her home in the Divis flats, west Belfast, by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in the city.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the claims that she was an informer.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home. The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed to gardaí.

She became one of the so-called ‘Disappeared’, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said this earlier this evening: “Last month Gerry Adams said that he was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. That meeting is now taking place.

“Gerry Adams is right to confront this issue. There has been a concerted and malicious effort to link Gerry Adams to this case for some considerable time.

“He has consistently and forthrightly rejected any suggestion that he had any part in what happened to Jean McConville 42 years ago or that he has any information about these dreadful events.

“I believe the timing of this latest decision by the PSNI is politically motivated and designed to damage Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin.

“It is Sinn Féin's view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process.

“In the absence of that, we have agreed to and are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals. These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”

KEYWORDS: Adams, McConville
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