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EXCLUSIVE: Gerry Adams tells Amanpour he is innocent

May 5th, 2014
05:51 PM ET

By Dominique van Heerden

“I reject absolutely any allegation made against me”, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview following four days in police custody in connection with the 1972 abduction and killing of mother of ten Jean McConville.

He was released without charge on Sunday.

“I am innocent of any involvement whatsoever in any conspiracy or of any of the events including the abduction, the killing, or the burial of Mrs Jean McConville” he told Amanpour, adding that he went to the Police Services of Northern Ireland voluntarily.

“When this became a matter of public speculation two months ago I contacted PSNI through my solicitor and said I was available to talk to them.”

Adams, 65, has long denied having any role in the death of McConville, a widow who was killed by the IRA four decades ago because the group believed she was a spy for the British army.

The Sinn Fein president says the allegations are part of a “sustained, vicious, untruthful and sinister malicious campaign” against him for “some considerable time”.

When asked why two IRA members implicated him in the abduction and killing when he says he had nothing to do with it, Adams told Amanpour these two individuals, who are since deceased, made the remarks “as part of a very dubious project”, referring to the Belfast Project.

The so-called Belfast Project at Boston College in the United States has recorded testimony from former IRA members involved in atrocities, and was used as the basis to question Adams.
Adams called those behind the project “disaffected, and very very hostile, anti-peace process former IRA activists”.

But in an interview with Christiane Amanpour one of the architects of the project, Ed Moloney, pointed out that it has been recognized as a “bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit”.

Click here to watch the full interview with Ed Moloney.

Gerry Adams also questioned the timing of his interrogation by the police.

“I contacted them two months ago, they waited until we were in the middle of an election before they made this very dramatic intervention, so I reject absolutely any allegation no matter who it’s coming from or any assertion no matter who it’s coming from, it’s ridiculous.”

Adams claims that he was never a member of the Irish Republican Army. In light of revelations from the Belfast Project, Christiane Amanpour raised the question of the exact nature of his relationship with the group.

Adams denied it once again, saying, "when the war was on I did politically support the use of armed action by the IRA as a legitimate response to British repression and British military occupation of a part of my country… of course I disagree with many of the issues and many of the things that the IRA did, including the killing of Mrs McConville and the way that her ten children were left".

He went on to explain to Amanpour that the premise and strategy of his recent police interrogation was to put to him that he was not only a member of the IRA, but that he had a managerial role, so should have known about the abduction and killing and secret burial of Mrs McConville. This is an accusation he continues to deny.

Jean McConville's children have vowed to keep fighting for justice for their mother. And in a recent interview with CNN her son Michael McConville said he was threatened by the IRA when he was a child and thereafter, which is why he won't release the names of those he recognised dragging his mother away the night she was abducted.

Adams responded by saying if Michael McConville wants to give names he should do so, "that's entirely his right".

But in recent interviews, Michael McConville says he was threatened by the IRA. Just today, he told BBC News that Adams himself warned him about speaking out, saying there would be a backlash if he released the names. Gerry Adams denies ever saying this.

He says he can understand why the McConville family “feel the way that they feel”, but says he has been trying his best to support and help all of the victims, particularly victims of the IRA.
Adams also told Amanpour it’s important to “keep our eye focused on the future”.

“Of course we need to deal with the past, of course we need to deal with the issues of the victims, but we cannot allow anything to divert us from peace path and from building the peace,” he says, “it just plays into the interests of the bigots and the negative sinister elements who are out there”.

When asked how this case might affect the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Adams responded by reiterating his support for the Police Services of Northern Ireland and the peace process.

He added that the police visited his family home after he was released from prison and told him there was a serious threat to his life, “from what they described as criminals”. But Adams says it is a risk he is prepared to take because “the peace process is bigger than us”.

As for the controversy surrounding the case of Jean McConville, Adams says it will not change Sinn Fein’s commitment to keep building the peace and “to work in partnership with everyone regardless of their political background, and to defend the rights of everyone and to tackle the hard issues of the past, and particularly those which affect victims”.

Click above to watch the full, exclusive interview with Gerry Adams.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. jsell

    It's time to move on. There were horrible things done by both sides and if they plan on investigating every misdead it will only lead to more of the same.

    May 5, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Reply
    • sparky42

      Problem with that is that SF and Adams are continuing to demand investigations and charges against British Army and Loyalist members for their actions (just the week before the BI Secretary refused to open an investigation into the Ballymurphy killings). If SF want to move forward then they have to stop demanding from their side as well.

      May 6, 2014 at 4:14 am | Reply
      • Dano50

        Gerry Adams has been accused of being connected to this murder on very weak evidence but British soldiers gave been proven to have murdered innocent Irish civilians and yet have not been arrested. Sinn Fein are happy for all these events to be investigated but the British government does not want this as they are right afraid of the entire truth emerging. The truth being that they have been running hit squads since the beginning of the conflict.

        May 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
  2. joe doro

    so how many innocent people do you have to kill to be called a mass murderer? So Sin Fein was just the political arm of the IRA (they really killed innocent kids?) so "finzies". Doesn't count.

    Maybe Israel should just back off and let the leaders of the Nazi party just get off. we all know it was the SS that killed 12 million people.

    Sorry you live a dream world.

    May 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • Sean Adams are making an idiotic reference. The British are the Nazis in this story. The IRA was trying to end the brutal rule of the British. Sad to say they failed and/or sold out .

      May 5, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
      • sparky42

        Please don't kid yourself, the IRA killed plenty of innocents (far more than the UK forces in the Troubles). The IRA are just criminals.

        Tell me do you think the Boston Bombers were right to do what they did? If not then why support the IRA?

        May 6, 2014 at 4:16 am |
      • sparky42

        You also realise that the British Army was originally sent in to suppress Loyalist attacks on Catholics (and were welcomed by the Catholics), it was using them as a catch all force when Stormont and NI itself had failed, along with the IRA attacking them that turned the Catholics against them.

        The majority of people in NI still want British Rule, and a parity have no working knowledge of the Republic.

        May 6, 2014 at 4:25 am |
    • Seamus McDermott

      According to Malcolm Sutton's Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland:[143]

      Of those killed by British security forces:

      187 (~51.5%) were civilians
      145 (~39.9%) were members of republican paramilitaries
      18 (~4.9%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries
      13 (~3.5%) were fellow members of the British security forces
      Of those killed by republican paramilitaries:

      1080 (~52%) were members of the British security forces
      728 (~35%) were civilians
      187 (~9%) were members of republican paramilitaries
      56 (~2.7%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries
      10 (~0.4%) were members of the Irish security forces
      Of those killed by loyalist paramilitaries:

      868 (~85.4%) were civilians
      93 (~9%) were members of loyalist paramilitaries
      41 (~4%) were members of republican paramilitaries
      14 (~1.3%) were members of the British security forces

      May 6, 2014 at 6:46 am | Reply
    • Dano50

      I am always amazed by the historical amnesia that British people like you suffer from. The British empire murdered, raped, mutilated, starved and enslaved millions of men, women and children all over the world for hundreds of years. In Ireland alone over hundreds of years your country is responsible for the deaths of millions right up to the current time.

      May 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  3. brian

    There is an old quote that applies:

    "Methinks he doth protest too much"

    May 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • sparky42

      He has no choice, if he admits it, the PSNI or Gardaí have to charge him with membership of an illegal organisation. So we get this "deny everything" bit instead.

      May 6, 2014 at 4:17 am | Reply
    • sparky42

      There's an old story from the mid 90's during the peace talks, Adams and McGuinness were in Dublin holding talks with the Irish Government, after a proposal was put to them about something Adams responded that they would have to take it back to the IRA Army council. The Irish Minister for Justice responded that "there's mirrors in the bathrooms, let us know what the council decides".

      May 6, 2014 at 4:43 am | Reply
  4. Lorenzo Frigerio

    "The voice of an actor".

    May 5, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  5. Seamus McDermott

    The Independent newspaper in Ireland is reporting that PSNI officers went to Adams home last night and told his wife that there was an active "credible threat" against Adams' life.

    May 6, 2014 at 6:43 am | Reply
    • sparky42

      I think there's probably always an active threat against Adams though. Certainly the Loyalists have been riled up over this but I doubt that they would come South to go after him.

      May 6, 2014 at 7:12 am | Reply
  6. Nick

    He didn't answer any of the questions posed and Ms Amapour signed off with thanks. If that is the level of CNN 'reporting' and it certainly seems to be, no wonder these people get away with what they do! As to Mr Adams being responsible for the peace in Northern Ireland one has to ask when CNN lost sight of objectivity?

    May 6, 2014 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Trevor Hughes

      I absolutely agree. She was the wrong person for the job. Paxman would have been a much better choice.

      June 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  7. TheGreenMan

    I suspect that Amanpour told Adams that she was innocent of anything that could be mistaken for credible journalism

    May 6, 2014 at 10:54 am | Reply
  8. Dano50

    Gerry Adams has been accused of being connected to this murder on very weak evidence but British soldiers gave been proven to have murdered innocent Irish civilians and yet have not been arrested. Sinn Fein are happy for all these events to be investigated but the British government does not want this as they are right afraid of the entire truth emerging. The truth being that they have been running hit squads since the beginning of the conflict.

    May 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  9. Guido Alvarez

    what an indecency ! Garry , he is giving up all his merits . The British and the Loyalist had no shame (invaders and their home dogs-the latter deserve to be punished twice !) . Garry is about to be considered "another chicken traitor "with that statement deneying his IRA membership(that's is the only good thing he did !)

    May 7, 2014 at 5:16 am | Reply
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