Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams: Reaction to release of Sinn Féin leader

Gerry Adams Image copyright Reuters
Image caption After his release, Mr Adams said he did not expect 'special treatment' but it was crucial that everyone was treated fairly

Gerry Adams was released from custody without charge on Sunday after four days of questioning in connection with the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

A file will be sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and prosecution lawyers will decide if charges will be brought.

Mr Adams was arrested on Wednesday when he presented himself voluntarily for questioning at Antrim police station.

There has been widespread reaction to his release.

Nigel Dodds, Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader

"The process of investigation has to take its course without any political interference whatsoever, and our thoughts of course must be with the McConville family at this time. The reality is that this was one of the most horrendous murders in the entire history of the Troubles. There's been no evidence of any kind of political interference in the first place in relation to the arrest of Mr Adams.

"This kind of attempt to have one law for everybody else and another law for Sinn Féin is not acceptable, it is not something the DUP will tolerate and we must ensure that everybody is totally signed up to the rule of law to support for the courts and the PSNI.

"Justice must not be allowed to disappear in the way that victims were allowed to disappear."

David Ford, Alliance Party leader

"I see no reason why Mr Adams' release without charge would damage confidence in the police.

"With the way that Northern Ireland politics operates, there is never a good time to do anything - if it had been before Christmas it would have been the Haass talks; as soon as the election campaign is over, people would be talking about a difficult marching season.

"You could always produce an excuse for the police not to do their duty at any time."

Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist Party leader

"Our thoughts are with the McConville family. Their 42-year wait for truth and justice makes Gerry Adams' complaint over the 'two month' delay between him offering to speak to the PSNI and their response seem churlish to say the least. Let us remember it was Gerry Adams who initiated this sequence of events.

"I encourage the PPS to complete a thorough and speedy review of the PSNI file. Beyond the McConville family, we all lose as a result of Sinn Féin's unreasonable response to what has happened.

"Support for the police must be absolute, not conditional. Everyone has the right to challenge police decisions and actions, but if you support the operational independence of the PSNI, as we do, then all the questions about timings, tactics and the rest that Sinn Féin have raised over the last few days should have been brought to the policing board, not the media."

Dolores Kelly, Social Democratic and Labour Party policing board member

"No-one should be seen to be above the law and indeed, Gerry Adams seems to think that policing and the political process must be on Sinn Fein's terms and that's not the case.

"The nationalist community and indeed the broader community is very much with the McConville family. We do hope that there will be continued investigation so that justice will be found for Jean McConville.

"People know that Irish democracy must be upheld and that no-one, or no one party, can usurp the authority of Irish democracy, whether that be Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein around policing or indeed the more recent threat by Peter Robinson to pull down the political institutions."

Jim Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice Party leader

"The release of Adams without charge raises serious questions as to how far the authorities blinked in face of Sinn Féin threats and tantrums.

"The corrupt road of 'the peace process' is littered with political convenience and expediency. Is this another example? We suspect so.

"Referral to the PPS is a cop out, aimed at a soft landing - after the election - when even the abused 'public interest' may be used as an excuse for not proceeding."

Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland secretary of state

"It is appropriate that wherever criminal activity has occurred that due process goes forward.

"No one should be above the law and therefore it's a matter for the police and the prosecutors and the courts to pursue those who break the law regardless of whether they're in public life or whether they're not."

Eamon Gilmore, Irish deputy prime minister

"Now that the PSNI have determined that a file should be sent to the Public Prosecution Service we must await the outcome of these deliberations.

"I call on all parties to respect this process and to refrain from further comment or speculation. This is a week to reaffirm commitment to the PSNI and to the democratic institutions in Northern Ireland.

"We should be sensitive in particular to the McConville family whose loss was so vividly and publicly recalled this week, as were the families who lost loved ones in Ballymurphy and in the La Mon Hotel. These events are a reminder that more needs to be done, not least in addressing the needs of those who were bereaved or suffered loss during the Troubles."

Ivan Lewis, Northern Ireland shadow secretary of state

"In the midst of the political debate we should remember the suffering and unresolved pain of Jean McConville's family. The PSNI must be allowed to follow the evidence and due process allowed to take its course, free from political interference.

"The events of the past year including an upsurge in dissident activity, the flag protests, the stalemate in the Haass talks and the reaction to Gerry Adams arrest are a stark reminder that peace and stability in Northern Ireland should no longer be taken for granted.

"Wise and cool heads are needed amongst leaders on all sides who should tone down the rhetoric and reassure people that they remain committed to reconciliation and a shared future. The UK government working with the Irish government must now take a proactive role in facilitating such an agreement."

Peter Hain, former Northern Ireland secretary of state

"It is still my very strong view that the past needs to be dealt with in an entirely different way.

"It has got to be handled in an even-handed way.

"If you're not going to bring prosecutions against former paramilitaries, whether republican or loyalist, then the same must apply to British soldiers on the terrible Bloody Sunday shootings for which David Cameron apologised.

"Now given they have arrested and detained Gerry Adams, I think they now have an obligation to go through with the enquiry currently conducted by the PSNI and arrest and detain the soldiers. Whether prosecutions result in any of these cases is an entirely different point."

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