Belfast Telegraph

Politicians must be wary of legal process: Justice Minister David Ford

By Chris Kilpatrick

The move by police to send their files on Gerry Adams to prosecutors puts the decision on whether or not he has a case to answer in the hands of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Pamela Atchison.

The director of the PPS, Barra McGrory, delegated the decision to Ms Atchison because he previously acted as Mr Adams' solicitor before taking up his current role in 2011.

This course of action was widely predicted by sources close to the investigation early on in Mr Adams' period of detention.

Had police considered they had enough evidence against Mr Adams to secure a conviction in court they would have charged him rather than allow him to leave through the back gate of Antrim PSNI station on Sunday evening.

He did so following four days of questioning during which police recorded 33 interviews with the Louth TD.

Police submit files to the PPS both recommending prosecution, or stating their belief there should be no such action taken based on the evidence currently available.

No timescale has yet been given for that decision.

Mr Adams was arrested last Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of Jean McConville.

He strongly denies any involvement in the 1972 murder.

The Justice Minister, David Ford, yesterday urged politicians to be mindful of the ongoing legal process regarding Mr Adams.

"What we need is all politicians to take a deep breath, take a step back, and stop anything which would politicise the justice system in any part of it," he told The Nolan Show.

"We need everybody to accept that the justice system needs to operate independent of politics, without that kind of influence – fairly and impartially, which is I believe what we see day and daily in every part of Northern Ireland.

"The police have to do what they have to do, the Prosecution Service have to do what they have to do and the Court Service have to do what they have to do, fairly and impartially, following up whatever opportunities they have," he said.

Mr Ford also dismissed claims made by the Sinn Fein leadership of "dark sides" within the police force.

"As Justice Minister, I'm in regular contact with police at every level in every part of Northern Ireland," he said.

"I speak, almost daily, to one of the senior officers and I see no sign there is any dark side left in policing."

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