Gerry Adams: I complained formally over police detention

Sinn Féin president calls on police ombudsman to review his detention, and denies any connection to Jean McConville murder

Sinn Féin's president, Gerry Adams, says he understands the "antipathy" the family of IRA murder victim Jean McConville feel towards republicans – and has revealed he has made a formal complaint to the police about aspects of his detention in connection with the killing.

In an article for the Guardian, the former West Belfast MP says that during his time in custody for four days last week in relation to the 1972 kidnap, murder and secret burial, the "principal goal" of his police interrogators was to "get to the point where they could charge me with membership of the IRA and thereby link me to the McConville case".

He says he is totally innocent of any involvement and claims that police tried to suggest he was recruited as a police Special Branch agent and later an informer for MI5 when he was previously arrested in 1972 and taken to a British Army barracks outside Belfast.

In the article, he says the police had "no new evidential material" and the police assertions that he was guilty of IRA membership were based on "anonymous newspaper articles from 1971 and 72, photographs of Martin McGuinness and I at Republican funerals, and books written about the period".

Adams, who still faces the possibility of charges as a file on the McConville case has been sent to the region's Public Prosecution Service, writes: "I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, but I am not uncritical of IRA actions and particularly the terrible injustice inflicted on Mrs McConville and her family. I very much regret what happened to them and their mother and understand the antipathy they feel towards republicans."

Adams said his detention would in due course be dealt with by the police ombudsman. He has previously said the food he was given was "un-eatable". In his article, he says: "When I was being released I made a formal complaint about aspects of my interrogation. My arrest and the very serious attempt to charge me with IRA membership is damaging to the peace process, and the political institutions."

He has always denied involvement in the murder of the widow, whom the IRA accused of being an informer. Her family have always denied she was a British army agent.

In his article, Adams also hits out at the controversial history archive in which ex-IRA members name Adams as the commander who gave the order for the widow to be killed and buried at a secret location.

He accused those behind the Belfast Project – the award-winning journalist Ed Moloney, the IRA prisoner-turned-historian Anthony McIntyre and the historian professor Paul Bew – of being opposed to the Sinn Féin leadership.

In his article, Adams mentions Ivor Bell, saying prosecutors claimed in court that he was one of the interviewees of the Boston College project.

On the role of the Boston College-Belfast Project tapes, he says: "The allegation of conspiracy in the killing of Mrs McConville is based almost exclusively on hearsay from unnamed alleged Boston College interviewees but mainly from the late Dolours Price [an IRA Old Bailey bomber] and Brendan Hughes [a Belfast IRA commanding officer]. Other alleged interviewees were identified only by a letter of the alphabet, eg interviewee R or Y. One of these is claimed by prosecutors to be Ivor Bell, although the interrogators told me he has denied the allegations."

Ivor Bell was a former republican colleague of Adams and both men were flown to London in the summer of 1972 to hold secret talks with the British government, including William Whitelaw. Bell was a senior IRA negotiator in the discussions, but later was expelled from the Provisionals for trying to stage a coup against its leadership in the early 1980s. The 77-year-old republican veteran denies charges of aiding and abetting in the McConville murder.


Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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