Gerry Adams said he made himself available to talk to police following a “sustained, malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign” against him alleging his involvement in a notorious IRA murder.
Speaking at a press conference following his release from custody after four days of questioning about the killing of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville, the Sinn Fein president said he was “concerned about the timing” when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) contacted his solicitor on Monday afternoon.
But Mr Adams, who prompted cheers from those in the room before he made his statement, asserted his support for the PSNI, saying: “I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI.”
Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny had spoken earlier in the day to discuss the situation surrounding Mr Adams’ arrest, but would not give any further details of the call.
Mr Adams exited Antrim Police station through a rear exit while angry loyalist protesters waved Union flags and staged a sit down protest in front of the heavily fortified station.
A file will be sent to prosecutors by detectives who have questioned him over the murder of Mrs McConville.
The move means the ultimate decision whether to charge the 65-year-old politician with any offence will be made by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) at a later date after reviewing evidence presented by police.
Mr Adams has always vehemently denied allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered the murder of the 37-year-old widow in 1972.
Mr Adams, who read his statement in Irish before reading it in English, thanked everyone for the support he had been shown, adding: “I am conscious that there is another family at the heart of all of this and that is the family of Jean McConville.
“Let me very clear - I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy to abduct, kill or bury Mrs McConville.
“I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed and for the return of the bodies of others killed during the conflict and secretly buried by the IRA, and I will continue to do so.”
The son of Jean McConville has vowed to continue the fight for justice after Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ release from custody.
Michael McConville said recent days had been difficult.
“The McConville family is going to stay to the bitter end until we get justice,” he said.