By Sabina Clarke
They finally got him. Gerry Adams, recently reelected Sinn Fein president was arrested — but not charged — by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), for questioning regarding the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of ten and suspected informant on the IRA during the period in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.
Once again, the uneven dispensation of justice in Northern Ireland reared its ugly head with this recent detention of Adams —the main architect of the Northern Ireland Peace Process who is regarded by some as Ireland’s most brilliant statesman.
The PSNI have long had their sights set on getting Adams which was recently reignited when Norman Baxter, a former disgruntled retired RUC officer and Adams’ detractor, urged them to reopen the investigation into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville — a dormant case that was never investigated when it happened more than 40 years ago.
The PSNI was aided and abetted in their efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder. The subpoenas, which were flawed from the start, hinged on the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), between the U.S. and Britain. However, the PSNI passed up on an opportunity to interview former IRA member Dolours Price, the focus of the subpoena, and one of the participants in the Belfast Project in Ireland which would render the MLAT Treaty invalid.
On the advice of the First District U.S. Court, Boston College responded to the first subpoena by handing over the confidential archives without ever alerting the Project Director Ed Moloney. They did this despite promising confidentiality to all participants in the Belfast Project.
And it was only after severe criticism from the outside —including a rebuke by the American Civil Liberties Union, — that Boston College eventually filed an appeal in the First District U.S. Court. Their appeal came after the appeals filed by Belfast Project Director Ed Moloney and Dr. Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews with former IRA members.
Moloney and McIntyre’s appeals were based on the violation of their First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights and eventually wound up in the High Court in Belfast and the United States Supreme Court.
The initial trigger for the request for the subpoena, instigated by the PSNI was at the behest of former Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer Norman Baxter who read Ed Moloney’s book, Voice from the Grave, which contained the posthumous testimony of former Irish Republican Army member and Belfast Project participant Brendan Hughes implicating Adams in the McConville murder.
The fact that Hughes, a former comrade of Adams during the 1980 Hunger Strikes, was deceased and had split with Adams over the direction of the Peace Process seemed irrelevant to the PSNI investigation
The timing of Adams’ arrest, smack in the middle of Sinn Fein’s campaign leading up to the May elections, is highly suspect and a transparent attempt to stop Sinn Fein and embarrass Adams.
Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister at Stormont and the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein during the Peace Process was visibly shaken yet gave a forceful and fervent presentation on An Plobacht TV about the Adams arrest and his interpretation of the motives behind it.
Opening with, “I am proud to say that Gerry Adams is my colleague, my party leader and my friend with whom I have worked very closely over the past 20 years developing the peace process which the people of this island now enjoy”—he called Adams “the single most influential and important figure in that process.”
While he acknowledged that there are the reformers in the PSNI who are committed to peace, he also pointed out that “There is a dark side within the police force that is intent on targeting the Sinn Fein peace strategy and targeting its leader Gerry Adams. And we’ve seen that dark side flex its muscles in the past few days.”
He concluded by expressing his conviction that despite this, Sinn Fein would do well in the polls. and that he was confident that Adams would rejoin them.
That someone who dedicated his life cobbling together a difficult fragile peace for his people would now be sitting in a police station answering questions about a murder that happened more than 40 years ago echoes the ghost of Nelson Mandela.