December 22, 2014
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams released from custody
Northern Ireland police released Gerry Adams from custody 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.
The Sinn Fein leader, who is a member of parliament in the Irish republic, has been dogged throughout his career by accusations from former IRA fighters that he was involved in its campaign of killings, a charge he has repeatedly denied.
McConville, who was accused by the IRA of being an informer for the British, an allegation her family has always denied, was dragged away in front of her children, one of 15 people living in strongly republican areas who were spirited away by the IRA and dumped in unmarked graves.
The killing has haunted Adams and has been raised repeatedly in interviews during his transformation from the face of Irish militant nationalism to mild-mannered politician. Police said it would now send a file to the public prosecutor.
Under the 1998 Good Friday agreement, which drew a line under 30 years of sectarian strife in the British province, those convicted of paramilitary murders during the conflict would have life sentences reduced to two years.