Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, a 37-year old widow alleged to have been a police informant in the IRA.
McConville, a mother of 10, was abducted and shot in December 1972, and her body recovered from a beach in County Louth in 2003.
She is considered one of the so-called Disappeared of Northern Ireland, sixteen people believed to have been abducted and killed by the Provisional IRA during The Troubles, the violent conflict between the late ’60s and 1998.
In a statement, Adams said that despite “concerns about the timing”, he would be “voluntarily meeting with the PSNI”. He presented himself to a police station in Antrim, 22 miles north-west of Belfast, and was reportedly arrested.
The PSNI tweeted: “A 65 year old man has been arrested this evening in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in December 1972.”
According to the party, Adams volunteered as early as last month “to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case”, and this meeting was now taking place – but rejected that Adams had any involvement or information about the killing.
Adams affirmed before his arrest: “While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville.”
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald added: “I believe the timing of this latest decision by the PSNI is politically motivated and designed to damage Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin.
“It is Sinn Féin’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process.
“In the absence of that, we have agreed to and are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals. These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”