The British government has moved to allay US fears over the future of the peace process following the arrest and continued detention of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
London Prime Minister David Cameron has contacted President Obama’s officials to assure them that his cabinet will ensure the peace process remains intact.
The Daily Telegraph reports that PM Cameron has personally taken charge of an urgent behind the scenes offensive to protect the Good Friday agreement.
The paper says the London government have kept the White House regularly updated because of America’s ‘close interest and sensitivity’ over Northern Irish politics.
PM Cameron has also personally contacted political leaders in Northern Ireland in the wake of Sinn Fein’s anger at the treatment of Adams, under arrest for questioning over the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
Northern Ireland’s deputy first leader Martin McGuinness has warned that Sinn Fein will withdraw support for Northern Ireland’s police force in the wake of Adams’ arrest on the eve of local and European elections.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Cameron has told the province’s First Minister Peter Robinson and McGuinness that the arrest was a police matter and not politically driven.
The London paper says the fact the White House has been kept informed reflects the international sensitivity to the arrest and its potential risk to the peace process in which Adams has been a key player.
A London government source told the paper: “If we had not spoken to them (the American government) given their long standing involvement in this they would be a bit surprised.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “The Prime Minister does appreciate the sensitivity of a case of this nature.
“He, like me, is anxious to ensure that the devolved institutions continue to work well and that the Northern Ireland political leaders continue to work with each other on the big challenges that we face.
“That is why I am urging everyone to respond in a measured way. Whatever the outcome, there are still problems to be fixed.”
The arrest of Adams has been linked to the Boston College Tapes in which two former IRA members claimed he was involved in the McConville murder.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and his deputy Eamon Gilmore have warned Sinn Fein that politicians should not receive special treatment when it comes to police investigations.
Gilmore said: “I don’t think anybody, Sinn Fein or anybody else, should seek to have a different rule applied to somebody because they are a politician.
“If the police service wants to interview somebody in connection with a murder investigation, they are perfectly entitled to do that.
“If that person happens to be a politician or the leader of a political party, so be it. There isn’t a separate rule.”