Alexis Tsipras: 'Release Gerry Adams!'

Banner at the May Day march in Milan.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece party SYRIZA and the Party of the European Left's candidate for president of the European Commission, released a statement on May 2 in opposition to the arrest of Gerry Adams, president of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein, on April 30.

Adams, whose party stands to make big gains in local and European elections on May 23 on an anti-austerity platform, was arrested over the 1972 execution of Belfast woman Jean McConville by the IRA. The arrest has been condemned as politically motivated and hypocritcal.

Tsipras said: "The arrest and detention of Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin Ireland and pioneer of the peace process in Northern Ireland is a politically inflammatory act against democracy and the fragile peace and normality in the region.

"Adams’ arrest is of concern to all of Europe. He does not stand alone, though.

"In addition to the support of the Greek people, he has the support of every democratic citizen across Europe who despises scapegoat politics and opportunistic pre-electoral actions, in an attempt to influence the local and European elections of May 23rd in Ireland.

"In my capacity as President of SYRIZA and candidate on behalf of the European Left for President of the European Commission, I ask for the immediate and unconditional release of Gerry Adams."

Irish republican paper An Phoblacht reports on some of the international support for Adams:

Greece: Protesters from the SYRIZA political coalition, the second-largest political group in the Greek parliament, demonstrated outside the British Embassy in Athens where party leader and candidate for President of the EU Commission, Alexis Tsipras, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the imprisoned TD (member of the Irish parliament).

United States: Republican Congressman Peter King told NBC News that the political implications of Gerry Adams' arrest will cause growing tension in the North. He added that he has known Gerry Adams for 30 years and described him as "always truthful" and "more instrumental than anyone" in bringing peace to Ireland.

Democratic Congressman Richard E. Neal told the Boston Globe that the arrest is “one of those unsettling moments” and said he was suspicious of the timing, which comes just before elections. “It all seems pretty murky,” he said.

Basque Country: Basque pro-Independence party Sortu, which makes up the Basque Parliament's opposition EH Bildu coalition, described the arrest as an attack on the peace process and "an attempt stop the unstoppable advance of republicanism in the whole island of Ireland."

Catalonia: The Young Republican Left of Catalonia (JERC), the youth wing of Esquerra, the second-largest political grouping in Catalonia, described the arrest as "an attempt to discredit him and his political organization, Sinn Fein, in a moment in which the local and European elections seem to be very favorable."

Italy: Banners calling for the release of Gerry Adams were carried by left-wing demonstrators during the annual May Day march in the city of Milan.

SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras visited Dublin's northside in March where he met with Sinn Féin and community representatives in Darndale-Belcamp village centre and discussed the impact of EU austerity measures on working class areas in both countries.