Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said he wants to meet the PSNI police chief over the arrest of his party’s northern chairman in the murder inquiry which sparked the current political crisis.
Bobby Storey (pictured) was one of three senior republicans arrested following the murder of Kevin McGuigan last month. The men were all released unconditionally, as were several other republican figures arrested and questioned by the PSNI in connection with the McGuigan killing.
While the Sinn Fein leadership stopped stort of accusing the PSNI of political policing, a series of high-profile arrests and raids against so-called ‘mainstream’ republicans has parked widespread unease across nationalist Belfast.
Mr Storey’s lawyer said the detention was “unjustified” and that his client would sue for wrongful arrest. “We are talking about an arrest that is based on non-existent evidence,” John Finucane said.
“I sat with my client for 35 hours in Antrim [interrogation centre]. We had 11 interviews and at no stage was any evidence produced to connect my client to the offences for which he was arrested for, and I think that raises some very, very serious questions.”
He added: “Arrests must be based on evidence, you can’t simply hold somebody for 35 hours without justifying that detention.
“I think the police really need to explain who made the decision to arrest Mr Storey, I think they need to be clear on what basis was that decision made and why was the arrest and detention allowed to proceed for 35 hours,” Mr Finucane said.
The west Belfast man has a long history of IRA service and spent almost two decades as a PoW. In the post-ceasefire period, he has been arrested and released unconditionally by the PSNI four times.
Speaking at a public meeting in County Louth, Mr Adams welcomed the latest release of his friend and associate, but that he had “grave concerns” about the PSNI’s actions.
“The unconditional release of Bobby Storey underlines the contrived nature of the current crisis in the political institutions in the north,” he said.
“I want to reiterate my grave concern about the nature in which the murder of two men has been exploited and also at the way the current difficulties have developed in the last few weeks, including the arrest of Bobby Storey.”