The PSNI police in the north of Ireland say thay have arrested Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after he agreed to speak to them about the circumstances of the abduction and execution of British state informer Jean McConville in 1972.
Mr Adams denies any involvement in the murder of the Belfast mother-of-ten. He has also consistently and repeatedly denied being a former member of the IRA.
Last month, Mr Adams said he had asked his lawyer to contact the PSNI on the matter and said he was available to be interviewed if they wished to speak with him.
Amid signs of heavy and conflicting news management by Sinn Fein and the PSNI tonight, Mr Adams told Irish state-run television RTE he had no role in what was one of the most prominent deaths of the conflict, but had agreed to be questioned about it.
In a brief statement, the PSNI said a 65-year-old man was under arrest for the McConville killing, without naming the Sinn Fein leader. They said he is being questioned at their Antrim interrogation centre.
Mrs McConville, a mother of ten, was abducted and executed by an IRA active service unit after coming under strong suspicion of passing information to the British Army, and controversially, her body was secretly buried, only to be recovered in 2003.
Nobody has ever been charged with her killing, although evidence obtained by Boston College researchers and secured by the PSNI last year facilitated a new investigation into the killing.
The arrest of prominent republican and former IRA commander Ivor Bell earlier this month was the first of a series regarding McConville’s death, culminating in today’s events.
In a statement, Mr Adams said: “Last month I said that I was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening.
“As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville.”
“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.
“Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.
“While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville.
“Sinn Fein has signed up to the Haass proposals for dealing with the past. While I also respect the right of families if they wish to seek legal redress there remains a huge onus on the two governments and the political parties to face up to all these issues and to agree a victim centred process which does this.”
Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said that a pre-arranged meeting had taken place between Mr Adams and the PSNI.
“Gerry Adams is right to confront this issue. There has been a concerted and malicious effort to link Gerry Adams to this case for some considerable time,” she said.
“He has consistently and forthrightly rejected any suggestion that he had any part in what happened to Jean McConville 42 years ago or that he has any information about these dreadful events.
“I believe the timing of this latest decision by the PSNI is politically motivated and designed to damage Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein.
“It is Sinn Fein’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process.
“In the absence of that, we have agreed to and are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals. These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”