DEADLINE LOOMS: CLOCK TICKS TO 8PM AS POLICE CONTINUE TO QUIZ GERRY ADAMS

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams being quizzed over Jean McConville's murder

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams being quizzed over Jean McConville’s murder

POLICE have until 8pm tonight to quiz Gerry Adams over the murder of Jean McConville.

This afternoon, a senior detective applied to Belfast Crown Court to have his extension to detention extended for 36 hours.

The hearing was held in closed session behind a locked courtroom door.

A judge was present in the courtroom with a live via videolink to the serious crime suite in Antrim where the Sinn Fein president is being held.

The PSNI have yet to say whether the court has granted the extension until 8 am on Sunday morning.

On Thursday night, a PSNI detective superintendent signed an order granting officers from the Terrorist Investigation Unit a further 24 hours to question the Louth TD.

The 65-year-old, who has always denied allegations thatt he ordered the murder of Ms McConville, voluntarily presented himself for interview.

However, he was subsequently arrested and cautioned under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

It came as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness claimed the detention of his long-time party colleague and friend was politically motivated ahead of elections later this month.

Mr McGuinness accused “very senior people” in the PSNI who were opposed to the peace process of engaging in “political policing”.

“There is a cabal in the PSNI who have a different agenda – a negative and destructive agenda – to both the peace process and to Sinn Fein,” he said.

Mr McGuinness contrasted the treatment of Mr Adams with a series of cases involving the British military – such as the Bloody Sunday killings of 1972 – where no action had been taken.

Mr McGuinness said Sinn Fein would “reflect” and “review” its support for policing in the region if Mr Adams is charged but urged republicans to remain calm if and until that happened.

Police are questioning Mr Adams about the killing of the Belfast mother of 10 in 1972.

She was wrongly suspected of being an informer to the British Army.

Ms McConville was dragged screaming from her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast by a gang of up to 12 men and women.

She was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried – so becoming one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles.

Her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth, 50 miles from her home.

Ms McConville’s eldest daughter, Helen McKendry, has told journalists she is now prepared to name the people responsible for her mother’s death.

PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has vowed the investigation into Ms McConville’s death will be “effective, objective and methodical”.

No one has ever been charged with the murder of the 37-year-old widow.

But after years without progress in the criminal investigation there have been a series of arrests in recent weeks.

The recent police activity followed a decision by a US court compelling a Boston university to hand over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded interviews with republicans about the murder.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

But that undertaking was rendered ineffective when the court ordered last year that tapes that contained claims about the killing be given to detectives.

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