BELFAST, (Reuters) – Northern Ireland police released Gerry Adams from custody yesterday and the Sinn Fein leader sought to calm fears that his four-day detention could destabilise the British province by pledging his support to the peace process.
Police arrested Adams on Wednesday over the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, a killing he repeated that he was “innocent of any part” in. His detention had raised tensions among Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government and its fragile peace.
After Sinn Fein pointed the finger at “dark forces” in the police service and their Protestant partners in government accused it of a “thuggish attempt” at blackmail, a calm Adams toned down the rhetoric and said he supported the police.
“My resolve remains as strong as ever, that is to build the peace, not to let this put us off. It’s our future. The past is the past,” Adams told a news conference attended by about 150 cheering supporters in a hotel in west Belfast.
“The old guard which is against change, whether it is in the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) leadership, within elements of Unionism or the far fringes of self-proclaimed, pseudo-republicans, they can’t win.”
“I’m an Irish republican. I want to live in a peaceful Ireland. I’ve never dissociated myself from the IRA and I never will, but I am glad that I and others have created a peaceful and democratic way forward for everyone. The IRA is gone, finished.”
Adams’ arrest over the killing of McConville was among the most significant in Northern Ireland since a 1998 peace deal ended decades of tit-for-tat killings by Irish Catholic nationalists and mostly Protestant pro-British loyalists.