Gerry Adams has claimed his arrest has galvanised his party’s European election campaign.
The Sinn Féin president, 65, was released from Antrim police station a week ago after four days of questioning by detectives about the 1972 murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville and other alleged links with the IRA.
The former West Belfast MP has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he ordered her abduction and death, and after his release described his arrest as a “sham”.
Mr Adams, who was speaking at an election manifesto launch in Belfast, said: “It has galvanised the Sinn Féin party and the broader republican family.
“Now they are very focused, there is an alertness that the process here cannot be taken for granted and people are looking to the work that Martin (McGuinness) and our other representatives have done around raising peace process issues.”
Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow, was dragged, screaming, away from her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast by a gang of up to 12 men and women after being wrongly accused of informing to the security forces.
She was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried - becoming one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles. Her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth, 50 miles from her home.
Mr Adams’ arrest prompted deputy first minister Mr McGuinness to claim that a “dark side” at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was behind his detention, an allegation chief constable Matt Baggott has denied.
Mr Adams said his arrest had not been beneficial to him or his family after 20 years of the peace process.
He added: “The worst thing is the signal that it was sending out to citizenry that have vested and invested their hopes in the future.
“I would like to think that the calming of the waters afterwards was down to the diligence and comments of our leadership.”