DPP: it could be “many many months” before a decision is made on whether or not Gerry Adams will be prosecuted…

As Newton Emerson notes in today’s Irish News – on some of the coverage of the arrest and questioning of Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, in relation to the abduction, murder, and secret burial of Jean McConville in 1972.

Mystery surrounds BBC claims that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) would not be bringing charges against Gerry Adams.  The BBC began reporting this on early Monday evening, barely 24 hours after Adams had been released pending a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).  This seemed very fast for the notoriously slow PPS to reach an initial view, not least on a bank holiday.  The file was presumably voluminous, or so the BBC must have assumed, having spent Sunday reporting that Adams had endured “up to 17 hors a day” of questioning.  On Thursday, the PPS revealed it has not even received the file, as it will take police several weeks to compile it.  So where had the BBC’s story come from?  Might its source have been the same as its source on the 17 hours of questioning?

Indeed.  That source was, of course, described in the BBC report as being “close to” Gerry Adams. [Was it Ted?! – Ed] No. [Not the bunny?!! – Ed] Again, no.  [Anyway, Gerry says he’s innocent! – Ed]  Well he would, wouldn’t he[And that he’s not an MI5 agent… – Ed]

To be fair to the BBC, they did mention, briefly, that “Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions Barra McGrory said he understood it would be “a few weeks” before [the file] would be sent.”

But they appear to have missed an equally, if not more, important point

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland has said it could be “many many months” before a decision is made on whether or not Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will be prosecuted in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972.

When Mr Adams was released after four days of questioning, the PSNI said a file on the case would be compiled and sent to the DPP for consideration.

This morning, DPP Barra McGrory said the file had not yet been received from the PSNI.

He said he expected it would contain a “voluminous amount of material”, including documents from the US.

Mr McGrory said it could be months before his office makes a decision on the file after it is received from the PSNI.

He said it would not be uncommon in major cases for a file to take many months to be considered. [added emphasis]

As a former legal advisor to Mr Adams, Mr McGrory is not handling his case at the DPP and it has been given to a deputy director to consider.

Possibly pending a public interest test…

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  • Charles_Gould

    BBC reporting seems sloppy here.

  • iluvni

    If McGrory is not handling the case, surely he shouldn’t make any comment upon it whatsoever.

  • Pete Baker


    He’s not commenting on the case itself. Just the procedure involved in making a decision on this, or any, case.

  • Gopher

    What if his underlings know his mind? Is their career over if they go against the boss? The unspoken word is very powerful in office politics. Big decision if you want to climb the ladder.

  • Pete Baker

    “What if his underlings know his mind? Is their career over if they go against the boss?”


    Are you even paying attention to what’s going on?

    On the other hand, clearly the Sinn Féin underlings know “the unspoken word”.

  • Gopher

    In an office you probably know every ones mind on certain issues it is especially important to know the bosses mind especially if you want promotion or not to be given s*** jobs. I don’t see how you can have somebody in charge of the PPS who has worked for a leader of a “movement” and expect the office to run impartially.

    Think this place needs a self denying ordinance

  • Pete Baker

    “I don’t see how you can have somebody in charge of the PPS who has worked for a leader of a “movement” and expect the office to run impartially.”

    Thankfully, you’re not in charge of the Public Prosecution Service.

  • New Yorker

    If Gopher is saying that if there is a conflict of interest for McGrory then how is it not also a conflict of interest for his deputy, I agree. It is not very likely a subordinate would be independent and not be conflicted due to their relationship with their superior, in this case the DPP. In this matter the decision should be made by an independent and competent party who is not part of the DPP office.

  • Gopher

    @New Yorker That is exactly what I’m saying it is preposterous that this file is to sent to the PPS given its heads relationship with Gerry Adams. It would be just as ludicrous to have a lawyer who specialized in terrorist victim cases being head of the PPS. You are correct the decision should be made by an outside party.

  • son of sam

    I’d expect that when the police file is ultimately received by the P P S, independent Senior Counsels opinion will be sought before the internal decision is made.

  • What a pathetic, self serving lunatic merry-go-round Law and Order is. …… and what tit would say that justice is not based in political incorrectness?

    The Magic Roundabout for all growed up and arrogant fools, who be quite ultimately useless tools.

    Although Pass the Parcel might also describe the shenanigans quite well too.

  • Son of Strongbow

    The DPP’s deputy will review the file of evidence submitted by the police. The DPP has said he will not be involved in the process, in other words he will not read the file and will allow his deputy to direct.

    The question about the deputy being in ‘conflict’ with the boss seems to be based on the suggestion that the DPP would direct ‘no prosecution’.

    Notwithstanding the current DPP’s history with Adams I see no evidence that he would compromise himself by having, allegedly, already reached a decision on an evidence file he has not read.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh Sos, just thought, are you being ironic?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Or do you really subscribe to the politically correct “robot” version of public service? Surely not, after all, “objectivity” is a fine aspiration, yes, in these matters, but all too often its just another power discourse, simply a further way of simply claiming the moral high ground (“I’m considerably more objective than you are”, sort of thing). But I do hope that, in this case, I’m wrong……

  • Gopher

    If there is no evidence I dont want a prosecution just prove the DPP’s impartiality or if he wants give his mate a chance to grandstand in an unwinable trial. There are more angles than you can dream of that is why I want an impartial competent decision. We simply dont know. We already had a demonstration over abortion from the Attorney General showing it is impossible for lawyers to be impartial.

  • Morpheus

    So now the impartiality of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution is being called into question because she might want a promotion to Director of Public Prosecutions at some stage in the future? Jesus wept, where do you get this guff??? You do realize that the Director of Public Prosecution is appointed by the Attorney General, right?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Well of course no one comes to anything completely free of bias.

    However for those who have a quaint view of how the world works, and here I’m particularly thinking of those who have got stuck way-back-when on the evolutionary scale who imagine the boss being as all-powerful as some medieval potentate; few, certainly no public, organisations operate in an autocratic manner where the head honcho simply makes decrees without having to record how they arrived at their decision in order to justify it.

    Public bodies are burdened, sometimes overly so, by bureaucracy. Much of this are the checks and balances that ensure good governance. Of course these do not fully insulate an organisation from wrongdoing but they do leave a trail.

    Together with the all too common ‘leak’, the ubiquitous presence of social media and the web in general you’d need to be a pretty confident, or foolhardy, dude to believe you’d be able to play fast and loose with the system and get away with it in the long term. (This applies equally to ignoring evidence as it does to knowingly presenting a weak case to facilitate a ‘show trial).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, SoS, but its not necessarily “the boss being as all-powerful as some medieval potentate,” it only needs someone who can deploy expensive and effective legal advice and pull on friends.

    With the revelations about the five decade long impunity with which Jimmy Saville had his wicked way unhindered now finally coming out in the media, do you really think “together with the all too common ‘leak’, the ubiquitous presence of social media and the web in general you’d need to be a pretty confident, or foolhardy, dude to believe you’d be able to play fast and loose with the system and get away with it in the long term.” But remember it only needs to be short term, or as in Saville’s case, for the perps lifetime.

    Some of the victims of similar pattern politician abusers were friends of mine, and quite a number of names they mentioned from the 1970s have still not been outed. I’ve had UK political “heavyweights” boast to me drunkenly at parties about what they can still get away with and pull strings to get hushed up! I even had an Irish friend on the London Weekend Newsroom tell me about such direct interference from interested parties on news stories that, accordingly, never appeared.

    Now, I’d really love to be able to believe that the PPS is utterly above the general run of horse trading that always goes on in between the media, the politicians and business/financial interests. And with regard to your comment on public bodies, and their checks and balances, “of course these do not fully insulate an organisation from wrongdoing but they do leave a trail.” But you still need the will and interest to expose these trails and it always helps if no one important, or who can deploy expensive legal advice, is implicated. Honest, open, accountable, public life? Some day perhaps, and a lot of very good people are pushing for it, but for the present dream on……

  • Kevsterino

    There was a case in Florida here in the US a while back where political pressure to prosecute forced the DA’s hand. It ended badly for all involved, and some not involved. A real mess.

    So, SoS, it isn’t like it can’t happen (top down pressure in a decision to prosecute not based on evidence.)

    I hope it doesn’t happen there. It is almost guaranteed to turn into a cluster ….whatever.

  • Son of Strongbow

    …..ok, ok, so for some it’s always winter 1984 and the telescreen is ever present, in their minds at least if not on the wall.

    But, yes bad things happen, pressure can be applied….but the fact that a case in Florida is talked about means that it is now in the public domain. So it did “end badly” for those involved.

    Perpetually being scared by the bogeyman gives shape and meaning to some people’s lives; and it keeps the Guardian in print. I suppose it acts like a counterbalance to the blithely unaware, the ying to others’ yang, an enjoyable rump on the ‘Dark Side’ as some might have it.

  • Granni Trixie

    Barra McCrory is held in highest esteem for his law work – that’s how he got the DPP job in the first place. There is no evidence whatsoever that he is going to Change the habits of a lifetime and be anything but professional.

  • Gopher

    Granni we live in Northern Ireland were perceptions run rampant as demonstrated by my yellow for descriptive flippancy no matter how innocent and impartial my intent was to demonstrate that very point from the third person.

    The Attorney General a year or so back let his own belief fuel his enthusiasm for a certain lobby which in my humble opinion was wrong, Do we know Barra’s opinion on a whole host of issues? Nope but I can tell you now people rightly or wrongly will associate his and therefore his offices connection with Gerry Adams. I would rather Gerry Adams, innocent or guilty and the people who condemn or praise him no such recourse to perception and just have them rely on cold blooded fact. Something with the PPS office you will not get in this case.

  • New Yorker

    The Director judges the performance of his deputy and his deputy knows it. That is just one reason why the deputy has a conflict of interest issue.

    It was unfair and unprofessional for the Director to place his deputy in this situation. Rather he should have followed a process to find a competent and impartial party outside the DPP office. Not just in this case, but in all cases where he has a conflict of interest.

    Also, did the Minister approve of the recuse and reassignment to the deputy?

    There are questions for the DPP and the Minister of Justice.

  • sergiogiorgio

    Impartial body to adjudicate – just switch the P for a U and job done – of course they’ll need to find a member that can read dem der big legal words’like…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Son of Strongbow,

    “…..ok, ok, so for some it’s always winter 1984 and the telescreen is ever present, in their minds at least if not on the wall.”

    But when Googles executive chairman, Eric Emerson Schmidt starts spouting his stuff, (and, after all, he’s in a position to know)….

    “Nous n’avons pas besoin en fait que vous tapiez tout sur votre ordinateur. Nous savons où vous êtes. Nous savons où vous avez été. Nous pouvons savoir grosso modo ce que vous pensez. Je pense en fait que la plupart des gens ne veulent pas que Google réponde à leurs questions […] Ils veulent que Google leur dise ce qu’ils doivent faire ensuite. Si vous avez quelque chose ou fait quelque chose que vous ne voulez pas que d’autres personnes ne le sachent, peut-être que vous ne devriez pas le faire en première instance. Nous avons besoin d’une identification de service positive pour les gens. Les gouvernements vont le demander (contrôle internet dans le style chinois). Nous savons tout ce que vous faites et le gouvernement peut vous tracer, vous surveiller. Nous saurons où vous vous trouvez à 50cm près, et nous réduirons cette marge à quelques centimètres dans le futur… Votre voiture se conduira toute seule, c’est emmerdant que les voitures furent inventées avant les ordinateurs, mais vous n’êtes jamais seuls, vous ne vous ennuyez jamais, vous n’êtes jamais à cours d’idées.”

    I found this quote on:


    Roughly translates as:

    “We do not actually need you to type anything on your computer. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We know pretty much what you think. I really believe that most people do not want Google to simply answer their questions……they want Google to tell them what they should do next. If you think something or do something you do not want other people to know, maybe you should not do or think it in the first place. We need to create a service that can positivly identify what people are up to. Governments will demand it, demand in effect, something to allow internet control Chinese style. We will know all that you do, so the government can trace you, observe you. We already know where you are close to 50cm, and we will reduce the margin to a few centimeters in the future … Your car will control its own actions, that its taking time is just due to cars being invented before computers , but you’ll never be alone you will never get bored , you’ll never run short of ideas.”

    Yeah, sure, its hype, but a hype that he and his clients aspire to. And that’s not me and Kevsterino getting all paranoid, its him trying to get us paranoid with the sales pitch. And while its quite a different theme to how one accesses trails of wrongdoing in public life to ensure accountability, it suggests to me that no one sane should rely on the internet to bring anything important to light that others may pay to keep hidden, if the internet is actually not “owned and controlled” by geeky altruists, but by business men who milk it to access something they can sell on, or limit access to, for real money.

    And Slugger may just be the only dispassionately open site out there……

  • Well if it cannot be decided by a few legal minds in a few weeks it should be left to the courts to be the Judge and Jury, which they are,

    the DPP should never see itself as def facto judge and jury.

    Look how long they waited to tell the public they would not be prosecuting our first lady over her homosexual remarks.

    long enough to effectively stop anyone taking out a private summons