Alex Maskey MLA, Sinn Féin member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Belfast, has told BBC’s Newsnight that the arrest of Gerry Adams is part of a “negative agenda” pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The Sinn Féin leader was reportedly arrested by the PSNI tonight in connection with the 1972 IRA killing of Jean McConville.
Maskey told Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman: “We believe the manner in which this has happened – we have to remember that Gerry Adams voluntarily made arrangements to speak with the PSNI this evening, and then he has been arrested in such a public fashion – we believe that there is a political agenda at work here.”
He said Adams had been available to speak to the PSNI about the McConville case for the past few years, and his arrest “three weeks into an election” demonstrated that “there is an agenda at work, it is a negative agenda and it is regrettable that it is happening”.
But DUP MEP Diane Dodds commented via her pro-Union party’s Twitter account: “No one should be above the law. Adams should be treated no differently than anyone else. PSNI should follow the evidence.”
Sinn Féin is participating in the European Parliament and local elections that are taking place in Northern Ireland on 22 May, and the European Parliament and local elections taking place in Ireland on 23 May.
Maskey, the chairperson of Northern Ireland’s Social Development Committee and a member of the First Minister and deputy First Minister’s advisory committee, said he expected Adams to be “released very soon”.