Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Gerry Adams released: Sinn Fein leader leaves Antrim police station after four day quiz over Jean McConville murder

Speaking at press conference in west Belfast

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams during a press conference at Balmoral Hotel after he was released from Antrim PSNI Station without charge
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams during a press conference at Balmoral Hotel after he was released from Antrim PSNI Station without charge
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaks during a press conference at Balmoral Hotel after he was released from Antrim PSNI Station without charge
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaks during a press conference at Balmoral Hotel after he was released from Antrim PSNI Station without charge
Release of Sinn Fein's party chief and Louth TD  Gerry Adams means the ultimate decision whether to charge the 65-year-old politician with any offence will be made by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service
Release of Sinn Fein's party chief and Louth TD Gerry Adams means the ultimate decision whether to charge the 65-year-old politician with any offence will be made by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has once again said he is "innocent" if any involvement in the killing of west Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville - speaking after his release from police custody.

Mr Adams left Antrim police station by a rear exit as loyalists protested outside the building following his release from custody after four days of questioning over a notorious IRA murder.

Speaking at a press conference in west Belfast shortly after his release, Mr Adams said reiterated the party's concern over the timing of his arrest on Wednesday.

"I am innocent of any conspiracy, to abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville," he said.

Angry demonstrators waving Union flags staged a sit down protest in front of the heavily fortified station shortly before his release on Sunday night.

But the Sinn Fein president tonight exited the station through another gate while the heated scenes unfolded.

Meanwhile, the son of Jean McConville has vowed to continue the fight for justice after Gerry Adams was released from custody.

Michael McConville said recent days had been difficult.

"The McConville family is going to stay to the bitter end until we get justice," he said.

A file will be sent to prosecutors by detectives who have questioned Mr Adams over the murder of Jean McConville.

The move means the ultimate decision whether to charge the 65-year-old politician with any offence will be made by Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) at a later date after reviewing evidence presented by police.

Mr Adams has always vehemently denied allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered the murder of the 37-year-old widow in 1972.

Riot police and PSNI Land Rovers were deployed to clear the protesters, some waving "Justice for Jean McConville" placards.

The crowd jeered and shouted insults at the police force.

Timeline of events

1972: Mrs McConville is dragged screaming from her home in Divis flats in west Belfast by an IRA gang of around 12 men and women. It is the last time her children see her alive. She is shot in the back of the head and secretly buried, so becoming one of the 'Disappeared' victims of the Troubles. In the 42 years since no one has been charged with her murder.

1999: One year after the signing of the historic Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland, the IRA finally admits responsibility for killing the 37-year-old widow, claiming she was an informer for the British Army.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains is set up by the British and Irish governments and the IRA passes on information on Mrs McConville's possible whereabouts on a stretch of coastline in Co Louth. But subsequent searches by the Irish police fail to find her body.

2001: Academics, historians and journalists embark on a five-year project to collate an oral history of the Northern Ireland Troubles. The Boston College initiative involves interviewing former paramilitaries about their roles in the conflict on the understanding their accounts would not be made public until they die.

2003: The body of Mrs McConville is finally found by a dog walker on Shilling beach in Co Louth after a heavy storm exposes her remains.

2006: An investigation by Northern Ireland's then police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan rejects the IRA claim that Mrs McConville was an informer.

2008: Brendan Hughes, a former IRA commander in Belfast who was one of the figures interviewed for the Boston College project, dies.

2010: A book containing excerpts from Hughes's interviews is published. Among claims outlined in Voices from the Grave is the allegation that Gerry Adams ordered the murder of Mrs McConville. Mr Adams emphatically rejects the accusation.

In the same year Dolours Price, who was convicted of the IRA's bombing of the Old Bailey in 1973, makes similar allegations about Mr Adams. Price indicates that she has also spoken to researchers at Boston College.

Mr Adams again denies the claims and highlights both Price and Hughes' criticism of his and Sinn Fein's involvement in the peace process.

2011: The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) launches a legal bid in the US to try to obtain tapes within the Boston College archive that relate to the murder of Mrs McConville.

2013: Dolours Price dies in her Dublin home of a suspected overdose of prescription drugs.

Later in the year the PSNI wins it lengthy court battle with Boston College and a number of the tapes are handed over.

2014:

March:

Veteran republican Ivor Bell, 77, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, is arrested and charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs McConville and IRA membership. His lawyer tells a court that the prosecution case against his client is based on an interview he allegedly gave to the Boston College project. The solicitor insists Bell will fight the charges.

Mr Adams, in response to the renewed focus on the McConville case in the wake of Bell's charges, issues a statement indicating he is willing to speak to the officers investigating the case. He again refutes any suggestion he had anything to do with the crime.

At different junctures through March and April, four women and one man, with ages ranging from 56 to 60, are also arrested and questioned about the murder. All five were subsequently released but police are preparing reports on the four women for the Public Prosecution Service to assess.

April, 30:

Mr Adams, after back and forth contacts between his lawyer and detectives, presents himself at Antrim police station for interview. He is immediately arrested and taken into custody - a move that Sinn Fein brands unnecessary and an example of "political policing".

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