Over the recent days the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has remained prominent in the news headlines. Adams made himself available to the PSNI for questioning in the presence of his lawyer and was subsequently arrested in connection with the notorious murder of widowed mother of ten, Jean McConville.
The McConville murder in my opinion was one of cruellest events of the troubles. Being the oldest of twelve children myself I can only imagine the hardship placed on the McConville children particularly the oldest siblings in terms of comforting, reassuring and caring for the younger children before the intervention of social services which saw the family divided. This situation was exacerbated by the secret burial of Jean McConville's remains.
Since Gerry Adams turned up at Antrim PSNI station, by appointment, Sinn Fein have continuously voiced their disgust and opposition to what they define as political policing. This has included threats of withdrawing their support for policing. This would suggest Sinn Fein not only see themselves as being above the law but being above due process despite them pledging their support to the PSNI time and time again, and calling on the wider public to follow their lead.
A question many are asking is how Sinn Fein can expect people to have confidence in policing when they refer to it having a dark-side? When concerns have been raised about the conduct of the PSNI Sinn Fein have released statements saying the PSNI are only doing their job. In all their statements calling for people to support the PSNI I don't remember one single statement Sinn Fein made saying the PSNI has a dark side, well until now.
The fact is these 'politically motivated' assertions by Sinn Fein are only made in cases that involve Sinn Fein members or supporters. If you cast your mind back to when he was released after the 'politically motivated' Stormontgate allegations Denis Donaldson said, "It was political policing and political charges and the fact that we were acquitted today proves that.” Shortly after that Donaldson was exposed as an informer for the British security services, and had been for 20 years.
But the politically motivated allegations aren't just limited to Denis Donaldson or Sinn Fein. When Gerry Kelly went land rover surfing and wasn't charged Unionists said it was a politically motivated decision. When Sinn Fein's Padraig Wilson was arrested it was political and when former Derry Sinn Fein Mayor Kevin Campbell's home was raided Sinn Fein demanded an apology because surprise surprise that was political policing too.
And on the subject of Kevin Campbell, I doubt Mr Campbell has been reprimanded for his comment involving Boston College researcher Anthony McIntyre, when he accused the Boston Tapes project of being a 'touting programme'. I would actually question the appropriateness of the language used by this civic leader and former first citizen of Derry.
When I arrived home from the Mayday parade yesterday I received a phone call from a friend in Belfast who told me of how Sinn Fein held a rally in support of Gerry Adams which including the unveiling of a mural in his honour.
My first thought was “aww come on, all this for a three day detention.” I for one would question Sinn Fein's lack of consistency, hypocrisy and absence, outside of reactionary lip-service, in the following cases:
Martin Corey was held in prison for over three years with no charge. Where is their protest over his release conditions which effectively make him a mute internal exile?
Where was Sinn Fein's public opposition when Gerry McGeough was taken from his wife and four young children in one of the most blatant acts of political policing? It was said that McGeough's standing in opposition to Sinn Fein electorally was damaging to them and this was cited by some as the political motivation for his arrest.
Where was the Sinn Fein opposition to the brutal searching of republican prisoner Thomas McWilliams before being taken for medical treatment having suffered a heart attack? Or indeed after undergoing surgery, and despite being under prison guard supervision 24/7 Thomas McWilliams was still brutally and forcibly strip searched on his return to Maghaberry, yet Sinn Fein have remained silent.
Where is Sinn Fein's opposition to the continued use of lengthy pre-trial detention known as remand and draconian bail conditions? After all in cases were people get bail, these are not convicted prisoners, as in the case of Gerry Adams, these people are innocent until proven otherwise.
What I would further question is, when Gerry Adams is released either on bail or without charge will Sinn Fein revert back to their old policy of supporting the police or will they amend their policies in accordance with their current stance?
And finally, in light of all this, is the dark side of the force answerable to the District Policing Partnerships?
Maybe Sinn Fein can clarify their new position.