A few days ago on Eamonn Maillie’s blog, Brian Rowan gravely informed us that, rather than the wild paranoid ramblings of a party desperate to distract attention from their threat to “review” their support for policing if the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, was charged as a result of the investigation into the abduction, murder and secret burial of Jean McConville in 1972, Sinn Féin’s latest outburst is evidence that “we’re not out of the political woods just yet.”
The source of his concern is this Belfast Telegraph article by the formerly little known placeman, Sinn Féin chairman, Declan Kearney. The conspiracy theory was first aired in a BBC interview with the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness. In between his ill-timed jabs at the DUP and the Conservative Party, and others, and claims that his comments about reviewing support for policing had been misrepresented, the BBC report noted
The deputy first minister said the fact that the police had told Ms Villiers in advance about Mr Adams’ arrest but not him, was a clear example of the PSNI showing political preference towards the British state rather than the devolved government.
Gerry Adams has been briefing some journalists along the same lines, telling Niall O’Dowd’s Irish Central website
“People know well what this was about,” he said. “It was politically motivated.”
He pointed out that British Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has now admitted that she had known beforehand that he was going to be arrested.
The Sinn Féin chairman, Declan Kearney, went further
What happened was done with British cabinet approval. Theresa Villiers knew over two days beforehand. Others will also have known.
The basis for this latest conspiracy theory are the comments from the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to the BBC on 2 May.
[Theresa Villiers] “I was told on Monday that it was expected that Gerry Adams would be questioned in relation to the McConville case. I was told by one of my officials who had been informed by a member of the PSNI. I noted it and obviously started to think through the potential consequences.” [added emphasis]
Just to be clear, on the same day that the PSNI contacted Gerry Adams’ solicitor to agree when he would be questioned, the NIO were also told that he was expected to be questioned. The NI Secretary of State was informed, noted it, and “started to think through the potential consequences”.
Given Sinn Féin’s subsequent reaction, and the NI Secretary of State’s continued role in some aspects of policing here, that would seem to have been an entirely prudent move. I’d also fully expect the same information to be passed on to the NI Secretary of State if any leader of a significant political party here was being questioned as part of a murder investigation – historical or not.
As for “British cabinet approval”, the alternative would be for the PSNI to have been told that they couldn’t question Gerry Adams – which would have been political interference in an on-going police investigation.
But if Martin McGuinness is still feeling left out at not being informed on the Monday, he should ask his party president “Why not?”