Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein and a member of the Irish parliament, was released from police custody in Northern Ireland without charge after four days of questioning about the 1972 murder of a mother of ten.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland will send a file to the Public Prosecution Service after releasing a 65-year-old man arrested in relation to the murder of Jean McConville, according to the force’s Twitter account. Police didn’t identify the man.
Adams, 65, denies any involvement in the death of McConville, a 37-year-old widow killed and secretly buried by the Irish Republican Army.
Protesters holding Union flags and placards awaited Adams’s departure at the front of the prison yesterday, booing as they faced off against police, a live broadcast on Sky News showed. The Sinn Fein leader left through a rear exit, Sky reported, without saying where it got the information.
Events from the past returned to haunt Adams last week, even as he leads Sinn Fein to more political influence on both sides of the Irish border. His party has morphed from the political wing of the IRA into one of the biggest opposition parties in the Republic while sharing power in Northern Ireland. His colleagues criticized the arrest as an attempt to embarrass the party before elections across Ireland this month.
“They didn’t have to do this in the middle of an election campaign,” Adams said to reporters at a news conference several hours after his release. “They could have done it differently.”
The prosecution service will examine the file before determining whether enough evidence exists to warrant bringing a charge and prosecution.
Police queried Adams on events stretching back to the 1960s, including his role in civil rights campaigns, time spent in prison and abortive peace talks with the British in the 1970s, he said. They referred to newspaper articles, photographs, books and other “open source” materials, he said.
Much of the interrogation was related to a series of recorded interviews with former militants known as the Boston Tapes, or the Belfast Project, Adams said. Prosecutors fought to gain access to the tapes, which were part of an oral-history project arranged by Boston College. One of the interviewees, who has since died, said Adams was tied to McConville’s killing.
Adams told reporters allegations tying him to McConville’s death are based on hearsay and made by individuals opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“They offered no evidence against me whatsover,” Adams said.
McConville, a Protestant from Belfast who married a Roman Catholic, was dragged from her home and killed in December 1972 and then buried, according to “Lost Lives,” a 1999 book charting murders during the conflict by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney and Chris Thornton.
The killing occurred as the IRA led an armed campaign against the British presence in Northern Ireland. While the Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1922, the North remained under British rule.
The IRA admitted in 1999 to secretly killing and burying nine people, known as “the Disappeared,” including McConville, according to CAIN, a University of Ulster website. Her family has denied IRA claims that she was an informer for the British.
McConville’s body was found in 2003 on a beach in Louth, a county in the Republic close to the border, according to Cain.
Her son, Michael McConville, called for an independent investigation into the murder to avoid any political interference, according to remarks broadcast on Sky News.