Belfast Telegraph

Tony Blair: Arrest of Gerry Adams endangered peace process

By Staff Reporter

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the arrest of Gerry Adams in connection with the murder of a Belfast widow left him highly concerned about the future of the peace process.

The Sinn Fein leader was questioned by the PSNI for four days at the start of the month about the abduction, murder and secret burial of mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972.

The move led to deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness suggesting that Sinn Fein would review its support for policing if Mr Adams was charged.

"I was worried about the impact on the process. I understand the reasons for it," Mr Blair told Irish Central in Washington.

"It is important we recognise that you can't overcome the past by ignoring it, but we do have to make sure we are focused on the future. These are very, very difficult questions bound to come up from time to time."

Mr Blair, who played a key role in the Good Friday Agreement, heaped praise on the two Sinn Fein leaders.

"I always say the quality of their leadership – some unionists will recoil when I say this, but it is important I say this – the quality of their leadership in bringing their people together and towards peace was remarkable," said the former Labour leader.

Mr Blair also urged former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass – who chaired last year's failed multi-party talks to resolve the issues of flags, parades and dealing with the past – not to give up.

"Keep at it," he said.

Mr Blair pointed out how the issue of IRA decommissioning had been another obstacle that was eventually overcome.

""My advice to Richard is to keep going. We have got to resolve it."

However, Dr Haass indicated on Friday that he does not intend to return here for further talks.

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