Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gerry Adams Arrest: Will Northern Ireland Peace Pay a Price?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gerry Adams Arrest: Will Northern Ireland Peace Pay a Price?

Article excerpt

The arrest of Gerry Adams, the leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, in connection with an unsolved 1972 murder has raised questions about Northern Ireland's peace process, just weeks away from European elections in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Adams has not been charged with any crime and Sinn Fein says he volunteered to meet with police over a month ago. He is being questioned in relation to the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast woman accused at the time of spying for the British Army. Her body was found in 2003 and the case remains highly contentious. Police detained another Irish republican, Ivor Bell, in March for questioning in the case. He was later charged as an accessory.

Adams denies any involvement in the killing. In a statement he said: "Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these." He also stated that "the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family." He has long denied being in the Irish Republican Army.

Sinn Fein's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, claims the arrest is politically motivated, coming shortly before elections in which Sinn Fein is expected to poll well.

A power-sharing peace deal signed in 1998 formally ended Northern Ireland's decades-long conflict between Catholics seeking to reunite with Ireland's south and Protestants who wanted to remain under British rule.

Historical truths and public inquiriesThe arrest is thought to follow directly from Boston College's "Belfast Project." In 2012, confidential testimonies by protagonists in the conflict that had been archived by the school were handed over to Northern Ireland's police after a court battle.

Anthony McIntyre, one of the Boston College researchers and a former IRA member, warns that the potential for trouble as a result of the police investigation is real. "Political stability in the North is not as robust as it was five or six years ago. I have long thought the peace process would survive, but it feeds into the instability of it."

Mr. McIntyre, who has clashed with republicans and does not support Sinn Fein, criticizes the authorities for their priorities in uncovering historical truths and wrongdoing. …

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