Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Adams denies McConville threat

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the controversy played into the hands of those who oppose the peace process

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has denied he threatened the son of murdered Jean McConville with a "blacklash" if he released the names of those believed to be responsible.

Michael McConville claimed today that Mr Adams told him "if you release the names I hope you are ready for the backlash" - which Mr McConville said he took to be a threat.

Mr Adams, 65, was released from Antrim police station yesterday pending a report being sent to prosecutors after four days of questioning over Mrs McConville's death and other alleged links with the IRA.

Responding to the allegations, the Sinn Fein president said the claim was untrue but that he understood why the McConville family were angry at Republicans over the mother-of-10's notorious 1972 killing.

He also suggested that the controversy over his suspected role in the killing played into the hands of "negative, sinister elements" who oppose the peace process.

Asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour about Mr McConville's claims, he said: "First of all I never said that. I have tried my best...

"I can understand absolutely, given what Republicans have done to their family and their mother, I can understand absolutely why the McConville family feel the way that they feel, so let me say that as a matter of record.

"But I am very, very clear - and they may reject this - I have been trying my best to support and help all of the victims, but I have a particular wish to help the victims of the IRA."

Mr Adams also spoke of "double standards" after the UK government last week rejected an investigation into the deaths of Catholic civilians shot by British troops in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, in August 1971.

He added: "We also have to remind ourselves that we are living in an entirely different situation, that we need to keep our eye focused on the future.

"This is about building a new society - of course we need to be with the families, of course we need to deal with the issues of the victims, but we cannot allow anything to divert us from the peace path and from building the peace.

"It just plays into the interest of the bigots and the negative, sinister elements who are out there."

Speaking earlier today to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr McConville alleged the "threat" was made around the time a report being drawn up by Northern Ireland's then police ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, into claims that his mother was an informer was close to being finalised.

He said: "Gerry Adams says to me 'Michael, you are getting a letter of support from the republican people'. He says 'if you release the names I hope you are ready for the backlash'.

"I took it as a threat."

The decision whether to charge Mr Adams with any offence will be made by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) at a later date after reviewing evidence presented by police.

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