Here is the transcript of his press conference in West Belfast after his release:
I came voluntarily from the Dail in Dublin to Antrim PSNI barracks last
Wednesday having contacted the PSNI two months ago through my solicitor
Seamus Collins, to tell them that I was available to meet them following
yet another spate of media speculation, part of a sustained malicious,
untruthful and sinister campaign alleging involvement by me in the
killing of Mrs Jean McConville.
When the PSNI contacted my solicitor on Monday afternoon I was concerned
about the timing, given that Sinn Fein is involved in very important EU
and local government elections across the island of Ireland.
But I quickly made arrangements to come here and I left Leinster House –
the Oireachtas – and Leaders Questions with the Taoiseach to do so.
I want to thank my solicitor Mr. Seamus Collins for his diligence and
professional approach and his colleague Eugene McKenna.
I also want to thank everyone who has sent goodwill messages to Colette
and our family and to my comrades in Sinn Fein for their solidarity.
Ta me fior bhuioch daoibhse uilig.
I am conscious that there is another family at the heart of this. That
is the family of Mrs Jean McConville.
Let me be very clear. I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy
to abduct, kill and bury Mrs McConville.
I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed and for
the return of the bodies of others killed and secretly buried by the IRA
and I will continue to do so.
The Commission set up by the two governments at the request of myself,
and the late Fr Alex Reid, has said that it is receiving 100% support
Martin McGuinness and I were actually to meet the Commission around this
time as part of this work.
I am mindful also that tomorrow is the anniversary of the death on
hunger strike of H Block martyr Bobby Sands MP.
Sitting in my cell here in recent days I reflected on that and on the
dreadful summer of 1981.
Of course this is not 1981 or 1972.
The people of this island – with a few exceptions, have carved out a new
So while the past needs to be dealt with – and Sinn Fein is up for doing
this – including the issue of victims and their families, there can be
no going back.
Peace needs to be built with determination and a consistent focus.
That remains my intention and is Sinn Fein’s constant endeavour.
I bear no animosity to anyone. I have no wish to be treated differently
from anyone else.
I am an activist – this is my live and I am philosophical and I
understand that I have detractors and opponents.
I especially understand that there are sinister elements, who are
against the changes Sinn Fein and others are committed to achieving.
I did not come here expecting special treatment but it is crucial that
everyone is treated fairly. I seek fair treatment not only for myself
but because it is crucially important that everyone knows that these are
changed times, that they can and will be treated fairly and that we can
all have hope and confidence in the new developing dispensation,
including the police service.
To send any other signal is to encourage the bigots.
So I make the case that those who authorised my arrest and detention
could have done it differently.
They had discretion.
They did not have to use pernicious coercive legislation to deal with a
legacy issue – even one as serious as this, which I was voluntarily
prepared to deal with.
They did not have to do this in the middle of an election campaign.
Remember I contacted them two months ago.
Despite this I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI.
I will continue to work with others to build a genuinely civic policing
The old guard which is against change whether in the PSNI leadership,
within unionism or the far fringes of republicanism, or the Dark Side of
the British system cannot be allowed to deny any of the people –
Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter – from our entitlement to a
rights-based, citizen-centred society as set out in the Good Friday
I am an Irish republican.
I want to live in a peaceful Ireland based on equality.
I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will but I am
glad that I, and others, have created a peaceful and democratic way
forward for everyone.
The IRA is gone.
During my interrogations much was made by my interrogators about my time
in the Civil Rights struggle in the 1960s, my arrest and detention in
Palace Barracks, in Long Kesh and in the peace talks in 1972.
Newspaper articles, photographs of Martin McGuinness and I at Republican
funerals, books and other open source material were used as the basis of
the accusations made against me.
Much of the interrogations concerned the so-called Belfast Project
conceived by Paul Bew, University lecturer and a former advisor to
former Unionist leader David Trimble, and run by Ed Moloney and Anthony
McIntyre as part of Boston College.
Both Moloney and McIntyre are opponents of the Sinn Fein leadership and
our peace strategy and have interviewed former republicans who are also
hostile to me and other Sinn Fein leaders.
These former republicans have accused us of betrayal and sell-out and
have said we should be shot because of our support for the Good Friday
Agreement and policing.
The allegation of conspiracy in the killing of Mrs McConville is based
almost exclusively on hearsay from unnamed alleged Boston College
interviewees but mainly from Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes.
Other anonymous alleged Belfast Project interviewees were identified
only by a letter of the alphabet, eg interview R or Y.
One of these is claimed by the PSNI to be Ivor Bell although the
interrogators told me he has denied the allegations.
I rejected all the allegations made about me in the Boston Tapes.
Finally, let me be clear. There is only one way for our society to go
and that is forward.
Yes deal with the past. Yes deal with victims but the focus needs to be
on the future.
That is the road we are on. There will be bumps in that road. There will
Obstacles will be erected.
We know that.
I thank everyone for their support.
I extend sympathy to the McConville family and all those who have
suffered especially at the hands of republicans.
My resolve remains as strong as ever. It is to build the peace and see
off the sinister forces, who are against equality and justice for