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Protestant leader of Northern Ireland calls Sinn Fein government partners 'despicable' thugs

  • APTOPIX Britain Northern Ireland Adams Arrest-1.jpg

    Michael McConville, the son of Jean McConville who was murdered by the IRA, speaks to the media at the Wave Trauma centre in Belfast, Thursday, May, 1, 2014. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is still being questioned by police at Antrim police station after being arrested late Wednesday in connection with the murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo) (The Associated Press)

  • Britain Northern Ireland Gerry Adams Arrested-2.jpg

    A woman and child make their way past a newly painted mural of Gerry Adams on the Falls Road, West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, May, 2 2014. Police continue to question the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at Antrim police station about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) (The Associated Press)

  • Britain Northen Ireland Adams Arrested-3.jpg

    FILE- In this Monday, May 31, 1999 file photo, Helen McHendry and husband Seamus find the agonizing wait for the recovery of Helen's mother all too much as Irish police continue to search for the body of her mother, Jean Mc Conville, in Dundalk, Irish Republic. Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army's 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow. Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview. Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy. According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file) (The Associated Press)

  • Northern Ireland Adams Arrest-4.jpg

    Author and IRA expert Ed Moloney talks to reporters at his home in New York, Thursday, May 1, 2014. Moloney, author of the definitive "A Secret History of the IRA," argues that the police investigation into Gerry Adams is designed not to bring justice but to claim the political scalp of Adams, who is Europe's longest-serving party leader. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (The Associated Press)

The Protestant leader of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has launched a blistering attack on his Sinn Fein coalition colleagues, accusing them of attempting to intimidate the police into freeing Gerry Adams without charge.

The 65-year-old Sinn Fein leader remained in police custody for a fifth day Sunday. Adams is being questioned about allegations that he was Belfast commander of the outlawed Irish Republican Army in 1972 and ordered the abduction, killing and secret burial of a widowed mother of 10.

The senior Sinn Fein politician in the unity government, Martin McGuinness, has warned that his party's continued support for law and order could depend on Adams' treatment.

First Minister Peter Robinson on Sunday accused McGuinness of "a despicable, thuggish attempt to blackmail" police. Adams could be released Sunday night.