Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

A "dark side" within Northern Ireland's police force is behind the arrest of Irish republican leader Gerry Adams, Northern Ireland's Deputy First minister said Thursday.

Martin McGuinness said the detention of the Sinn Fein president was a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of local and European parliamentary elections due to be held this month in the British province.

"I know that we've seen that dark side flex its muscles in the course of the last couple of days," he said. "I view his (Adams') arrest as a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the elections that are due to take place in three weeks' time, north and south on this island."

Adams was being questioned over the abduction and execution of Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10 who was killed in 1972 by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which opposed British rule in Northern Ireland. He has denied any role in the killing.

McGuinness, a former IRA commander and fellow high profile Sinn Fein member, served as chief negotiator for the party during talks that led to the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement, a major political development that brought relative peace to the restive province.

British Prime Minister David Cameron disputed McGuinness' claim saying there had been absolutely no political interference in this issue.

Reuters contributed to this report.

-Henry Austin