SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams cast a defiant figure as he took a stage to address the media and his supporters following his four-day incarceration - and insist on his innocence.
Flanked by senior Sinn Fein members, the party president denounced the “malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign” alleging his involvement in the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.
Speaking after four days in PSNI custody, the former West Belfast MP and now Louth TD criticised the PSNI who he said had made a mistake in the timing of arresting him over the mother-of-10’s brutal murder.
As Jean McConville’s son held a Press conference on the other side of Belfast, Mr Adams faced a supportive crowd as he complained about the PSNI arrest.
He said “his interrogators” took a “phased” approach to their questioning, going back as far as a time when he was just 18 months old.
He also criticised the material used by those officers interviewing him and the process he was subjected to in the holding cells.
“Let me be very clear, I am innocent of any involvement, in any conspiracy to abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville,” he said.
The Sinn Fein president was arrested at Antrim PSNI Station on Wednesday evening.
The arrest sparked a political crisis with Martin McGuinness saying his party would “reflect and review” its support for policing should Adams be charged.
Mr Adams was released amid chaotic scenes while a report was prepared for for the Public Prosecution Service to determine further action, if required.
That move puts his the decision to prosecute in the hands of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Pamela Atchison.
She will now rule on whether Mr Adams will face trial after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, delegated the decision to his deputy.
Mr McGrory acted as a solicitor for Mr Adams before becoming DPP in 2011.
He also represented Mr McGuinness in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
Mr Adams affirmed his and his party’s support for the PSNI — but again questioned the decision. Echoing the words of Mr McGuinness who said “dark forces” within the PSNI were orchestrating the timing of his arrest, Mr Adams claimed: “This was the old guard using old ways — we can’t let them win.
“They could have done things differently, they had discretion. They did not have to use pernicious, coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue even one as serious as this, which I was voluntarily prepared to deal with. They did not have to do this in the middle of an election campaign.”
Mr Adams said the allegations made against him were based on the Boston College tapes, newspaper allegations, material from his time in prison, pictures of himself and Martin McGuinness attending republican funerals and other material freely available.
The material from the Belfast project — which has recorded testimony from members of paramilitaries involved in atrocities and has been used as a basis to interview him — was orchestrated by those “against Sinn Fein and anti-peace”, he claimed. He said that evidence, mainly from the now deceased Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, was used to interrogate him while other interviewees were referred to by only letters of the alphabet.
Who is Pamela Atchison?
Solicitor Pamela Atchison was appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland on April 2, 2012. The mother-of two graduated from Queen’s University with a first class degree in languages. She was admitted to the Roll of |Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Northern |Ireland in 1978. In 1982 she joined the then Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions and in 1999 was the first woman promoted to Assistant Director. Pamela was promoted to Senior Assistant Director in November 2009 with overall |responsibility for a wide range of matters including the most serious and complex casework.