Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 July 2015

Police tell Gerry Adams' wife of death threat to Sinn Fein chief

By Michael McHugh, David Young and Sam Lister

Published 05/05/2014 | 20:13

PACEMAKER BELFAST   04/05/2014
Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams and Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks at a press conference at the Balmoral Hotel in West Belfast this evening. Adams was released this evening after 4 days of questioning by the PSNI in relation to the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.  Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/05/2014 Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams and Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks at a press conference at the Balmoral Hotel in West Belfast this evening. Adams was released this evening after 4 days of questioning by the PSNI in relation to the murder of Jean McConville in 1972. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventuall Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/05/2014 Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams speaks at a press conference at the Balmoral Hotel in West Belfast this evening. Adams was released this evening after 4 days of questioning by the PSNI in relation to the murder of Jean McConville in 1972. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventually Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventually Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
4/5/2014 PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gerry Adams speaking to the media on being released this evening from Antrim police station this afternoon after being questioned in relation to the murder of Jean McConville. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventually Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-05-2014: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been released from custody over a 1972 murder and a file will be sent to the Public Prosecution Service. Mr Adams had been questioned at Antrim PSNI Station since Wednesday, after he was arrested in connection with the IRA murder of mother of 10 Jean McConville. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in a belfast hotel after being released from custody in Antrim PSNI station. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventually Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
4/5/2014. Adams Release. Dramatic scenes outside Antrim Police Station as the PSNI try to escort Sinn Fein President out of the station after they had questioned him for four day. Loyalist protesters blocked the police escort while the riot squad took up positions. Eventually Mr. Adams was escorted to his Belfast press conference out the back door of the station. Photo Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-05-2014: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been released from custody over a 1972 murder and a file will be sent to the Public Prosecution Service. Mr Adams had been questioned at Antrim PSNI Station since Wednesday, after he was arrested in connection with the IRA murder of mother of 10 Jean McConville. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in a belfast hotel after being released from custody in Antrim PSNI station. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Loyalists gather outside Antrim PSNI Station after it was announced that Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams was to be released without charge following questioning over the Jean McConville murder on May 4, 2014 in Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-05-2014: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been released from custody over a 1972 murder and a file will be sent to the Public Prosecution Service. Mr Adams had been questioned at Antrim PSNI Station since Wednesday, after he was arrested in connection with the IRA murder of mother of 10 Jean McConville. Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in a belfast hotel after being released from custody in Antrim PSNI station. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
4/5/2014 PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gerry Adams gets a handshake and a thumbs up from a supporter after speaking to the media on being released this evening from Antrim police station this afternoon after being questioned in relation to the murder of Jean McConville. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been released without charge following four days in custody at the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Antrim HQ
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th May 2014 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured at a press conference in the Balmoral Hotel in west belfast this evening after being released from custody. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Michael McConville called for an independent investigation into his mother's death
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA addresses the ongoing detention of Sinn Féin party president, Gerry Adams TD during a press conference at the Sinn Féin offices on the Falls Road, Belfast.
Helen McKendry holding a picture of her mother
Martin McGuinness speaks to the media at Sinn Fein offices in west Belfast yesterday
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 03: Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Martina Anderson address a crowd gathered on the Falls Road in support of Gerry Adams on May 3, 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Sinn Fein leader has spent a third night in police custody in connection with the 1972 murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been informed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland of a "credible" death threat, according to a party spokesman.

Speaking about the death threat, Mr Adams told CNN's Christiane Amanpour: "The PSNI visited my home late last night and said that there was a serious threat to my life from what they described as criminals.

"That's the risk that I and others have to take, and are prepared to take, because the peace process is bigger than us.

"This is why we have to be very steadfast and resolute and patient as well."The party blamed those opposed to the peace process for the message, which it said was passed by police to Mr Adams' wife while he was not at home.

Mr Adams, 65, has been released from Antrim police station, pending a report being sent to prosecutors, after four days of questioning about the notorious 1972 killing of mother-of-10 Jean McConville and other alleged links with the IRA.

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member Raymond McCartney said: "The PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) officer told Gerry Adams' wife Collette that they had information of a credible threat to the life of Gerry, who was not at home at the time.

"Clearly there are elements that are opposed to the peace process and anti-Sinn Fein. We will not allow them to succeed nor will we be deflected from our determination to build the peace process."

A police spokesman said the force did not discuss the security of any individual.

He added: "However, if we receive information that a person's life may be at risk we will inform the relevant persons accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

Another senior Sinn Fein member, Bobby Storey, was also warned of death threats, the party said.

Mr Adams has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he ordered the abduction and killing of Mrs McConville.

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

Tonight at a European election rally Mr Adams claimed his arrest was a sham.

He said the family of Mrs McConville have the right to seek justice, but he claimed he was looking to the future.

A son of Mrs McConville has said Mr Adams threatened him with a "backlash" if he released the names of those he believed were responsible.

Michael McConville has said his family's fight for justice will go on after the Sinn Fein leader was freed, but has maintained he could be shot if he disclosed the identities of suspects to police.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "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."

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.

The Sinn Fein president had brokered a series of meetings between him and members of the IRA.

Mr McConville said he used to tell Mr Adams what had happened in the meetings and warned him that he would release the names of those involved if Ms O'Loan's report was disputed.

At that point he said the backlash was mentioned.

Mr McConville said that "could" have meant a backlash against the peace process but said he took it to mean the "backlash from republican people".

Mr Adams will refocus on election campaigning today as the political fall-out from his release from police custody continues to reverberate around Stormont and beyond.

The republican party is holding a European election rally in Belfast tonight, with a similar event planned in Dublin tomorrow, as Mr Adams resumes the canvassing activities he claims his detention was designed to thwart.

The rapturous welcome Mr Adams received in a west Belfast hotel on his first public appearance was in marked contrast to the angry scenes outside the police station as loyalists protested at the decision to free him.

There was disorder in the loyalist Sandy Row area of Belfast, with petrol bombs and stones thrown, though no one was injured.

The former MP for west Belfast and now representative for Co Louth in the Irish Dail criticised the police's handling of his arrest but moved to dispel any suggestion that Sinn Fein's commitment to policing had wavered in the wake of the affair.

His arrest on Wednesday triggered a bitter political row at Stormont, with Sinn Fein accusing an "anti-peace process rump" within the PSNI of orchestrating the detention with the aim of damaging the party ahead of the European and local government elections.

This was angrily rejected by political rivals, whose fury intensified when senior Sinn Fein figures indicated that their support for the police - a critical plank in the peace process - would be "reviewed" if Mr Adams was charged.

Democratic Unionist Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson denounced those remarks as "bully boy" tactics.

Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke yesterday to discuss the situation surrounding Mr Adams' arrest.

Mr Adams questioned the timing of his detention and said police had unnecessarily used "coercive" legislation to detain and quiz him.

Helen McKendry, Mrs McConville's daughter, told Channel 4 News the family was "listening to legal advice".

She added: "I want the people who dragged my mother from her home, tortured her, killed her, buried her, I want them brought in a court of law.

"That's all I want for my mother, justice."

Further reading

Gerry Adams mural paint-bombed - community divided over arrest 

Gerry Adams slams 'sinister, malicious, untruthful campaign' following release by police 

Gerry Adams release will not make fallout go away, you know

Gerry Adams fallout: Crisis is over for now, so let's try to rebuild peace

IRA's omerta is not as watertight as it used to be...  

Sinn Fein's reaction to Adams arrest sending wrong message

 Sinn Fein will not blackmail police, warns Peter Robinson

 

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