Second night in custody for Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has spent a second night in police custody after his arrest by detectives investigating the IRA murder of a Belfast mother-of-10.

Officers are set to resume questioning the 65-year-old politician today about the killing of Jean McConville in 1972.

It comes as her eldest daughter said she is prepared to name the people responsible for her mother’s death.

Forty-two years after her mother was abducted from her flat in west Belfast, Helen McKendry said she no longer feared reprisals by republicans.

“What are they going to do to me? They have done so much to me in the last 42 years,” she told BBC2’s 'Newsnight'.

“Are they going to come and put a bullet in my head? Well, they know where I live.”

Mr Adams has always vehemently denied allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered the murder of Mrs McConville, who was wrongly suspected of being an informer to the British Army.

He was arrested at Antrim police station on Wednesday night after voluntarily presenting himself for interview.

The former West Belfast MP and current Louth TD in the Irish Dail can initially be held for up to 48 hours without charge – a time period that ends at around 8pm today.

But detectives have the option to apply to a judge today for his detention to be extended for further questioning.

Mrs McConville was dragged screaming from her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast by a gang of up to 12 men and women.

She was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried - so 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.

Mrs McKendry’s declared willingness to speak out was in contrast to her brother, Michael McConville, who said earlier that he was still not prepared to name those involved even though he knew who they were, because of the consequences for his family.

He claimed he was too scared to tell detectives who he believed was responsible in case he or other family members were shot by republican extremists for informing.

“Everybody thinks that the IRA has gone away but they have not. If we tell we will be shot,” he said.

Mrs McKendry, who was 15-years-old at the time, said she was convinced that Mr Adams was involved, despite his repeated denials over the years.

“I have always believed that Gerry Adams was involved in the murder of my mother. Till the day I die, I will believe that,” she said.

Mr Adams’s long-standing party colleague and friend, Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has claimed the arrest was aimed at inflicting political damage on Sinn Fein in the month of an election and said it was an example of the “dark side” of policing trying to flex its muscles.

But British Prime Minister David Cameron rejected any suggestion that the arrest was politically motivated.

“There has been absolutely no political interference in this issue,” he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also rejected Mary Lou McDonald's assertion that the timing of the arrest of Gerry Adams is "politically motivated".

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable Matt Baggott has vowed the investigation into Mrs McConville’s death will be “effective, objective and methodical”.Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy said this morning that he was ``surprised'' that Mr McConville felt he could not provide information to investigators looking into his mother's death for fear of possible reprisals.

Mr Murphy told Today programme: “Many people have brought information forward in relation to inquiries and we have said quite clearly over the years that if families wish to co-operate with the historical investigations team – flawed as its approach clearly and officially was found to be – then people should be free to do so.

“Many, many families have co-operated with those investigations and I’ve yet to hear of one who have suffered any intimidation as a consequence of doing that.”

He added: “I certainly feel that the McConville family are entitled to pursue justice in this case. They are entitled to pursue whatever avenue they feel (appropriate) in the case of their mother, and I would certainly strongly urge that no-one interferes in that process at all.

“In cases before where this has happened, no-one has interfered – that I am aware of – in any of these processes.”

Mr Murphy went on: “The police are entitled to pursue their inquiries as they see fit, but we are making an argument that in this case in a very high-profile way, with timing that is very suspect...

“The police clearly have been following a different pattern in relation to this sort of matter and the loosely-based accusations in relation to Gerry Adams and in relation to state killings. That approach goes right the way to the top in the British Government.”

DUP MP for Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson said he believed that the police decision on the timing of Mr Adams’s arrest was “absolutely not” politically motivated.

Mr Donaldson told Today: “Is anyone seriously suggesting that, when the police are involved in a murder investigation, they have to time an arrest to do with the politics?

“Can you imagine the outcry there would be anywhere else in the United Kingdom if the police operated on the basis that they had to have regard to what was happening politically? That would just make the police political and it would be precisely the thing that people are accusing them of doing.

“Some of the loudest voices and the fingers pointing toward Gerry Adams in relation to this alleged crime came from the Republican community itself. The people who have named Gerry Adams are not Unionists, they are not the British Government, not the Irish Government, not the police, but Republicans.”

Mr Donaldson added: “In terms of the peace process, we are absolutely determined that Northern Ireland should continue to move forward.

“No-one is naive about the Republican leadership and about their past association with the IRA. We always knew there might come a time when someone in that leadership would be questioned about serious crimes in the past. We have to recognise that that is the reality. That doesn’t mean that the peace process is going to be held back or will be damaged by this.

“But we do need to find a way of dealing with the legacy of our troubled past. We do need to find a way of ensuring that all of these matters are dealt with.”


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