Police get more time to quiz Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is still being questioned by detectives about the IRA murder of a Belfast mother-of-10 after they were granted more time to quiz him.

Last night a judge allowed the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) a further 48 hours to hold the party president at an Antrim police station.

Mr Adams, 65, vehemently denies allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered Jean McConville’s murder and secret burial in 1972.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972 have been granted an extra 48 hours to interview a 65-year-old man who was arrested in connection with the investigation on Wednesday 30th April.”

Mr Adams’ party colleague and Stormont deputy first minister Martin McGuinness has claimed a “cabal” within the PSNI was behind the arrest, with the intent of damaging the peace process and inflicting political scars on Sinn Féin in the month of an election.

Mr McGuinness indicated that Sinn Féin would review its support for policing in Northern Ireland if Mr Adams is charged by detectives investigating the murder of Mrs McConville.

McGuinness said he and colleagues would not be making a “knee-jerk” decision, but suggested they would “reflect” on their endorsement of the PSNI if such a situation came to pass.

Mrs McConville abducted at Divis flats in west Belfast by a gang of up to 12 men and women after being wrongly accused of informing to the security forces during the height of the conflict.

She was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried - becoming one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles. Her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth, 50 miles from her home.

Mr Adams, a former MP for West Belfast and now an elected representative for Co Louth in the Dáil, voluntarily presented himself for interview at Antrim PSNI station by prior arrangement with detectives.

Sinn Féin’s decision to sign up to support the police in 2007 was viewed as a major milestone in the peace process and prompted the return to devolved rule at Stormont, with the republican party and the Democratic Unionists entering government together.

Mr McGuinness has acknowledged that Mrs McConville was the victim of a terrible wrong done by the IRA but said Wednesday’s action was a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of European elections due in three weeks’ time.

DUP leader Mr Robinson said it would have been political policing if the PSNI had decided not to investigate Mr Adams because of the pending poll.

It is the latest dispute which has split the Stormont regime.

While uniting to condemn violence by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, many key decisions remain in limbo because of differences between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

At the end of last year, the five main Stormont parties failed to agree on dealing with the legacy of 30 years of violence which has left thousands of victims, controversial Orange Order and republican parades and the display of the British flag on public buildings.

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