Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has emerged from a PSNI base this evening some two hours after his discharge from custody was confirmed by the force.
He exited Antrim interrogation centre through a rear gate amid tense and confused scenes outside the PSNI station.
Earlier tonight, the PSNI confirmed tonight that after four days of questioning in relation to IRA activities dating from 1972 and beyond, Mr Adams would be released and a file sent to Crown prosecutors.
It is understood the Prosecution Service will now decide if a case will be brought against the Sinn Fein leader.
That outcome was largely welcomed by republicans and criticised by loyalists, who gathered in increasing numbers outside the Antrim barracks this evening.
After 7pm this evening, an armoured PSNI convoy attempted to bring Mr Adams out through the main gates of the base but was blocked by a sit-down protest. Some time later, the Sinn Fein leader was finally escorted from the rear of the base in an unmarked car, accompanied by a smaller convoy.
Earlier, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said he visited Mr Adams, who he said was “worried about the damage” his arrest may be doing to the image of policing”.
The remarks echoed a toning down of comments by Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness over his suggestions that the party would “review” its stance on policing following Mr Adams’s detention.
Speaking to reporters outside the PSNI serious crime suite in Antrim earlier, Mr Kelly said Mr Adams was “looking well and being treated well”, and he thanked supporters for their solidarity.
Speaking against a barrage of abuse from a loyalist protest at the gates of the station who shouted “Fenian b-stard” and similar comments, Mr Kelly said Mr Adams believed the timing of his arrest and detention in the weeks before an election was political.
“The extension of it is political and he is worried about the damage it may be doing to the image of policing as well and it is being mishandled.”
Mr Kelly said Mr Adams was being asked questions about “open source” [public domain] materials,-
“In other words they are producing photographs that might be 40 years old and already in the public arena. They are referring to his book which has been out 20 years and newspaper articles which are decades old.
He said they were are also asking him about interviews made with former IRA Volunteers by Boston College as part of an academic ‘oral history’ project.
It is understood Mr Adams will attend a press conference in Belfast some time before nine o’clock.