Adams arrest has ‘backfired’ and ‘galvanised support’ – Conway-Walsh
Áine Ryan and Edwin McGreal
IF the detention of Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was ‘political policing’ by an ‘old cabal’ within the force, who wished to damage the party ahead of the local and European elections, it has badly backfired. That is the view of Sinn Féin Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh who told The Mayo News last night ‘that people saw it for what it was’.
“Sinn Féin’s steady rise in the polls has unsettled certain interests but people I have met while canvassing since last Wednesday became more angry as his detention was extended. Back in 2002, when Martin Ferris (a Kerry TD) was doing well in the polls, he was arrested too. I don’t think Gerry’s detention will influence our campaign negatively at all, in fact it may influence it positively,” Cllr Conway-Walsh said.
Mr Adams voluntarily went to the Antrim police station to answer questions about the murder and disappearance of widowed mother of ten, Jean McConville, who was abducted, murdered and ‘disappeared’ in 1972 by an IRA unit. Mr Adams has always claimed his innocence about the horrific crime and was released, after five days in custody, at 7.30pm on Sunday night. A file has been sent to the North’s Public Prosecution Service.
Cllr Conway-Walsh said the arrest ‘had really galvinised party support around him’ and, that, moreover, 65-year-old Adams had ‘a lot more to offer to the peace process’.
SPEAKING in Castlebar at the launch of Sinn Féin’s Mayo campaign, just a day before Mr Adam’s arrest, Sinn Féin’s European Parliament candidate for the Midlands-North-West constituency, Matt Carthy, said he was ‘not getting carried away’ by a recent Millward Brown survey which has him topping the poll in this month’s election.
However, he said, voters do want change.
“I am not getting excited about opinion polls, but we get the sense on the doorsteps that there is an appetite for a different type of politics,” Matt Carthy said. He said he had been on ‘the road since July’ and had visited ‘practically every town and village in the 15 counties’.
“I will be demanding proper regional development. The very make-up of this constituency with 15 counties and the next constituency beside it with one county [Dublin] – nothing sets out in starker terms the regional imbalance in this country. The Government has failed to invest in rural counties,” he said.
Coincidentally, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was in The Welcome Inn at the same time and shook hands with Pearse Doherty TD, who chaired the Sinn Féin launch.
When asked if it was a snapshot of a possible future coalition, Doherty said: “It will depend entirely on the programme that can be delivered for government. I personally do not think we should [form a coalition] because of how they [Fianna Fáil] have destroyed the economy, but it is up to party membership to decide. We’ve given a commitment to scrap the Property Tax if we are in government, but there is also a wide gulf between our policies and the parties of austerity.”
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