Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Nothing underhand in Gerry Adams arrest

Reaction to the arrest and questioning of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams about the abduction, murder and secret burial of Jean McConville has followed predictable lines. Understandably the questioning of a well-known political leader about such a serious crime has made headlines across the world. It is a sensational development, although given the number and nature of allegations directed at Mr Adams by former associates, some now dead, police have a duty to investigate them.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness blames dark forces within the PSNI for the decision to arrest Mr Adams, saying it is aimed at damaging the party's electoral chances in the forthcoming European and local authority polls. But Mr Adams had gone voluntarily to the police.

Blaming cabals within the police or insinuating that political pressures are at play are common complaints by Sinn Fein when members are arrested or brought in for questioning.

They may have had some traction in years gone past, but these repeated cries of wolf have worn thin and cause little ripples of concern among the general public now.

What must be borne in mind in this case is that the police have a live investigation into a heinous crime, the murder of a mother-of-10, snatched from her crying children by the IRA in 1972.

No one could fail to be moved by the accounts some of those children have given in recent years about that dreadful night and the effect it had on all their lives afterwards and how they still fear telling all they know about the abduction of their mother.

Mr Adams deserves to be treated the same as any other suspect. His profile or political leanings should be incidental to the due processes of the law.

The wheels of justice in his case must grind at exactly the same speed as those of anyone else questioned about a crime.

We have an independent police force and an independent prosecution service and we must trust them to act justly and according to the evidence before them.

That is how a mature democracy treats its citizens, unlike the kangaroo court that sentenced Mrs McConville to death.

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