Irish terrorist murders ‘should be left unsolved’; Historic banquet at Windsor, but in Belfast there’s still a bitter taste

Irish terrorist murders ‘should be left unsolved’
Sean O’Neill Crime and Security Editor
The Times
April 7 2014

A de facto amnesty should be offered to terrorists who killed, bombed and maimed during Northern Ireland’s 30 years of violence, a former Northern Ireland Secretary said yesterday.

Peter Hain’s radical proposal, which would end any prospect of prosecutions in 3,000 unsolved murders from the Troubles, comes on the eve of the first Irish state visit to Britain.

President Higgins arrives in London today and will be welcomed by the Queen tomorrow. The Sinn Féin politician and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness — a former IRA commander — will attend the State Banquet at Windsor Castle.

The visit comes amid a spate of “cold-case” inquiries connected to the Troubles, and controversy over “comfort letters” given to on-the-run IRA members to protect them from prosecution.

Mr Hain, Labour’s Northern Ireland Secretary from 2005-07, said he understood that his proposal would make victims and survivors of the Troubles “desperately angry” but argued that it was vital if Northern Ireland were to stop being “stalked” by its past.

“I think there should be an end to all conflict-related prosecutions,” he said. “That should apply to cases pre-dating the Good Friday agreement in 1998. This is not desirable in a normal situation. You would never dream of doing this in England, Scotland and Wales — but the Troubles were never normal.

“You can keep going back all the time and you can keep looking over your shoulder or turning around all the time, but what that does is take you away from addressing the issues of now and the issues of the future.”

Mr Hain said that political leaders in Northern Ireland urgently needed to face the legacy of the conflict, amid signs that dissident republicans are taking inspiration from the Taleban to use homemade rockets against the police.

He added: “This is not going to go away. It’s going to continue stalking the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister and the entire body politic there. The past just stalks them and they’re either going to confront it and deal with it together or they’re going to continue to be stalked by it.”

After the furore over letters to rule out prosecution for IRA fugitives, Mr Hain called last month for a halt to the criminal investigation into the Bloody Sunday shootings. His latest intervention goes farther, advocating an across-the-board end to investigation and prosecution of unsolved crimes by loyalist and republican paramilitaries and members of the security forces.

The former minister said that there had to be an even-handed process — a judicial tribunal or a truth-and-reconciliation commission — by which cases could be resolved without prosecutions.

He said: “A soldier potentially liable for prosecution who’s being investigated for Bloody Sunday has got to be treated in the same way by whatever process emerges as a former loyalist or republican responsible for a terrorist atrocity.”

Cases thrust back on to the agenda include a judicial examination of the letters given to IRA “on-the-runs” and criminal inquiries into three incidents from the Seventies: the IRA murder of Jean McConville; the killing by the British Army of 14 marchers on Bloody Sunday and the loyalist bombing of McGurk’s Bar, in which 15 people died.

Ivor Bell, 77, a former colleague of Mr McGuinness in the IRA leadership, will appear in court in Belfast on Friday charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs McConville in 1972. Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin President and one of the architects of the peace process, has had to deny allegations that he ordered Mrs McConville’s murder and has offered to speak to police about the case.

Mr Hain’s call echoes a similar proposal last year by John Larkin, Northern Ireland’s Attorney-General. It met stiff political opposition, with Peter Robinson, the Province’s First Minister, saying that it would allow people to “get away with murder”.

Many victims’ families are expected to react angrily, but William Frazer, a victims’ campaigner whose father was murdered by the IRA in 1975, said that his mind was not closed to any proposal that was fair. “We all need justice but a lot of us do realise that we will never get it,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on the right to justice. We all know we have to move on, but you can’t ask people to forgive if they don’t want to forgive and you can’t ask them to forget.”

Seamus McKendry, the husband of Mrs McConville’s daughter Helen, said: “I don’t agree but I understand where he’s coming from. You have to let things go at some time, but people just can’t forget that easily. Jean McConville has become such an iconic figure, a tragic figure. And there are other such cases, like Bloody Sunday. I think if you can resolve some of those bigger cases, at least it lets the people know they haven’t been forgotten about.”

Historic banquet at Windsor, but in Belfast there’s still a bitter taste
Sean O’Neill
The Times
April 7 2014

In the magnificent surroundings of St George’s Hall in Windsor Castle, the Queen will mark another milestone in Anglo-Irish relations tomorrow night when she hosts a state banquet for President Higgins.

Following the Queen’s successful trip to Ireland in 2011 and her handshake with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness in 2012, the first Irish state visit to Britain is being cast as a further step towards consigning centuries of conflict to the history books. Mr McGuinness, a former IRA leader, will attend the banquet in tie and tails.

Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach, yesterday welcomed Mr McGuinness’s decision to go to Windsor, saying that people needed to “move on and not be blocked by the past”.

In Northern Ireland, however, the past is everywhere. The place seems harnessed to its history and that carries the potential to derail the future.

Bloody hatreds and painful memories are painted on gable walls and kerbstones, wrapped in flags and banners and cemented in the sectarian division of schools and neighbourhoods.

In Belfast you can take an open top bus tour around the murals of the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Falls Road, depicting their own versions of struggle and sacrifice, and take pictures of the “peace walls” that divide Protestant from Catholic and scar the city physically and mentally.

The Good Friday agreement, the settlement that ended three decades of violence that claimed more than 3,600 lives, is 16 years old this week. Division, rancour and distrust persist, such that Ulster can seem to have settled for separation rather than reconciliation.

“The conflict may be over on the street but it’s still very much in people’s minds,” one veteran republican said.

That conflict is also being given a new lease of life in a spate of historical investigations which could lead to former paramilitaries standing trial, including some who put away their guns and re-emerged as politicians.

The case of John Downey, the former IRA man acquitted of the Hyde Park bombing when his trial at the Old Bailey collapsed this year, caused outrage.

In Ulster such cold cases are increasingly common. Police are investigating the deaths of 14 demonstrators shot by soldiers of The Parachute Regiment in Derry in 1972. Last month detectives arrested a 75-year-old man over the loyalist bombing in 1971 of McGurk’s Bar in north Belfast, in which 15 people died.

Later this week, Ivor Bell, 77, a former IRA member, will appear in court charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville, who was abducted, tortured and shot in 1972 because the IRA suspected her of being an informant.

Sources say that taped interviews with former paramilitaries, recorded as part of an oral history project, name the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams as the IRA commander who ordered Mrs McConville’s murder. Her family, who have faced vilification over the years, are hoping for justice.

“It’s good to get the can open at last, maybe a few worms will come out,” said Seamus McKendry, the husband of Mrs McConville’s eldest daughter, Helen. “Jean McConville is never coming back from the dead, but we could at least give her memory a bit of peace.”

Mr Adams denies any involvement in the killing.

Advances in forensic science will bring more old cases within reach of resolution. Republicans watch the arrests of former IRA men and, according to one, “are beginning to ask if things are being clawed back, if you can ever have an honourable agreement with the British”. Loyalists look at the “amnesty letters” for the IRA’s on-the-runs and wonder why people in their community were not treated likewise.

Richard Haass, the former US diplomat who led failed talks on the legacy of the conflict, warned that agreement on dealing with the province’s past was now urgent and time alone would not bring healing. He told a US Congress committee last month: “Absent political progress, the passage of time will only create an environment in which social division intensifies, violence increases, investment is scared off, alienation grows and the best and brightest leave to make their futures elsewhere.”

Amid the gloom, Peter Sheridan, chief executive of Co-operation Ireland, said that it was important to remember the achievements of 1998. “There are hundreds of people alive today, thousands who are uninjured because of the Good Friday agreement.”

With hindsight, he says, the issue of the Troubles legacy should not have been devolved to local politicians. “Dublin and Westminster can’t take those devolved powers back now, but they do need to engage. I don’t think we’re going to go back to violence, but we do need to find a way to deal with our horrible past.”

He believes that proposals to end conflict prosecutions are worth further debate. “We need to be honest with victims and honest with ourselves — too often we overestimate what can be achieved with investigations. We can never do justice to the scale of the injustice that happened in this place.”

As the prime mover in orchestrating the historic handshake, Mr Sheridan has another suggestion that holds out the prospect of hope. “Rather than spending £200 million on inquiries and investigations, we should use it to build a memorial hospital — perhaps that is the best we can offer.”

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting

TRANSCRIPT: Belfast Media’s Abysmal Reporting
Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
29 March 2014

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview author, journalist and former director of The Belfast Project Ed Moloney (EM) about the Boston College tapes.

(begins time stamp 31:58)

SB: We’re talking to Ed Moloney, the author of Voices From the Grave (and) A Secret History of the IRA. And Ed was the director of what was called The Belfast Project. It was a unique oral history of The Troubles speaking to people from the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Volunteer Force who actually did the fighting.

And now, if you are a regular listener to the show you know, those tapes were handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and now they’ve been used to charge Ivor Bell, former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army, with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Ed, thanks for being with us and what can you tell us about that?

EM: Which bit, Sandy? There’s a lot there.

SB: About the use of the tapes from the project you directed to charge Ivor Bell.

EM: First of all there is no evidence that this is Ivor Bell that was interviewed.

As I understand it one of the reasons why the police have let it be known that they want to question Anthony McIntyre, the interviewer, is to provide evidence about the identity of someone who’s only known in court as “Z”, “Interviewee Z”.

And they’ve also let it be known that if they do proceed to trial on this they will identify the person “Z” by what they call “the jigsaw method”.   I’m not exactly sure what that means.

But there is no confirmation, believe it or not, despite all the media reports that this is actually Ivor Bell that is featured in this interview at the center of this court case. So that’s point number one. And that should be borne in mind.

There’s a great deal sloppy journalism and reporting about this case and that has to be up there at the top of the list I think.

SB: And what tapes were actually handed over the the Police Service of Northern Ireland?   Was it all the tapes from The Belfast Project?

EM: No, no, no, no indeed. As you said in your introduction that the Boston College tapes were handed over as if all them were handed over.

My estimate is that maybe two to three percent of the archive has actually been handed over to the PSNI. A very small fraction – much, much less than the PSNI were actually seeking in the first place and a very, very small number of interviews. I mean, if the police had been trying to get say all of a person’s interviews that they gave to the Boston College (archive) they were refused that.

They were only allowed interviews which actually made mention of the Jean McConville case or associated elements of it and that dramatically reduced the number of interviews that were actually handed over.

So again, I was watching news reports in Belfast during the week which were saying that the PSNI now have full access to Boston College archives. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve got as I said my estimate is about two to three percent – very small number – eleven in total – and that is very small.

JM: Ed, you were speaking about how it was covered over in Ireland. We’re going to go to two clips now: ne from Ulster Television and the other from RTÉ and this is how they covered it.

(Audio clip of two news broadcasts by UTV Reporter Sharon O’Neill and RTE Northern Editor Tommie Gorman)

JM: And that was two news clips about how it’s being reported over there.

Also Ed, what’s coming out now is how Sinn Féin is going on the attack, particularly of you and Anthony McIntyre, calling the Boston tapes a “touting programme” on one hand and then Gerry Adams issuing statements that if anyone has any information on the killing of Jean McConville to please come forward to the PSNI.

So, they want it both ways.

EM: So what’s your question, John? I don’t quite follow you.

JM: How did you perceive the two clips there? Were they accurate? And Gerry Adams’ hypocrisy on telling people to come forward and then criticising the tapes themselves.

EM: Both of those reports were just so full of inaccuracies that it highlights exactly what I’m talking about here.

In Belfast at the moment we do not have a fully functioning media.

First of all, Paul Bew’s involvement in this project, which is now being highlighted by Gerry Adams, was marginal. He was a message boy from Boston College to a number of people in Belfast back in 2000- 2001.

If anyone had any ideas for projects or things that Boston College could do commemorate the peace process – to record The Troubles – Paul Bew would pass on their ideas to Boson College and we were one of the ideas that was put forth.

So his role is marginal but is being played up by Gerry Adams because he was also at one stage advisor to David Trimball so he’s trying to make this appear to be a Unionist plot of some sort which it is absolutely not.

Secondly, I was never an interviewer. I coordinated the project. The interviews were conducted on the Republican side by Anthony McIntyre and on the Loyalist side by Wilson MacArthur. So again, another inaccuracy.

And Sharon O’ Neill, the UTV person, is the one I was referring to who said that The Belfast Project, the archives at Boston College, that the PSNI now have full access to them.

I rang her up and I said: Sharon, that is not true and I repeated to her what I just repeated to you, that they got a very tiny percentage of the reports.

And she said: Oh, terribly sorry, Ed, it was because it was a live report. In other words when you go on live reports for UTV and you’re the Justice Correspondent you’re apparently allowed to say the first thing that comes into your mind and accuracy is a second option as far as people like that are concerned.

And this is part of the problem. You’re getting just absolute rubbish journalism covering this story.

If this was the United States of America and it was happening by this stage, for example, The New York Times and The Washington Post – I would certainly hope and I think they probably would – would have had a team working on the story:

Is it possible to get a conviction?

Would a case like this even go trial on the basis of the evidence that we have?

And the evidence? Let me just go through it:

We have this interview or portion of an interview, small portion of an interview from someone called “Z” who the police are claiming is Ivor Bell.

That was an interview that was not taken under caution such as most police statements have to be in order to be presented into court.

It was not a sworn statement. It was conducted by someone who was an academic researcher and not someone who was a forensic interrogator from the RUC. Or PSNI. (excuse the Freudian slip.)

There’s no supporting evidence. There’s no forensics evidence. There’s no ballistic evidence.

And most crucially of all: there is no admission by anyone, least of all “Z”, least of all whoever “Z” is, if it’s Ivor Bell or not I don’t know.

There’s not a lawyer that I have talked to in the week or so since Ivor Bell was arraigned on these charges who believes: a) that this could secure a conviction and many of them believe this won’t even go to trial.

Yet none of this is reflected in the media coverage. Not one journalist as far as I can make out has made an issue of trying to examine what are the real legal possibilities of even going to trial on something like this never mind securing a conviction.

And on the basis of that the PSNI have been allowed to present a fantastic triumph – breaking, cracking the case of Jean McConville’s disappearance – when in fact as I think events will ultimately prove – you couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now in relation to what Gerry Adams is calling for well, we’ve gone through this before. And we’ve gone through all the attacks that he has launched against Boston College and against this particular project.

I’m asking, or I’m saying this very simply:

if anyone was to conduct a serious history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and decided to leave out, because they have fallen out of favor, people like Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price…

…incidentally it would help if Tommie Gorman could actually pronounce her name – it’s not Dolers or Dolores – it’s Dolours. It means sadness. He couldn’t even get that basic fact right.

But if he were to try to construct a history of the Provisional IRA during The Troubles and you left those people out – Dolours Price was in charge of the first bombing team that attacked London back in 1973.

Brendan Hughes was at the side of all the Belfast Commanders from the early 70′s onward including Gerry Adams. He was the closest friend of Gerry Adams. He shared a cubicle with Gerry Adams in a hut in Long Kesh during internment.

He led the 1981 hunger strikes.

He led the debate inside Long Kesh which led to the reorganisation of the IRA in the mid and late 1970′s.

He was involved in all the major phases of the Republican struggle.

And one’s supposed to leave someone like that out because Gerry Adams doesn’t like or didn’t like Brendan Hughes’ attitude towards him and towards the peace process?

I don’t think so.

I think if you were an historian and you left those sort of people out of any attempt to chronicle the real story of the IRA you would be accused by historians of utmost bias.

We went and we sought people like Brendan Hughes because of their value and the totality of what they could contribute in terms of their knowledge of the IRA and their knowledge of the Provisional’s and their history.

And the sections in which he criticises Gerry Adams actually, when you look at the totality of these interviews, were very small indeed. The rest of it, in relation to the Gerry Adams was either neutral or in fact very pro, because he was very close to Gerry Adams and very fond of him and said many, many nice things about him as well as being critical of him.

SB: Ed, getting back to Gerry Adams: I find it very interesting that Ivor Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.

As far as we know Gerry Adams has not even been questioned about that. But both Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price said he gave the orders for that.

Why is it do you think he doesn’t even get questioned?

EM: I don’t know what’s happening on that particular issue, Sandy, because Gerry Adams issued that offer, if you want to call it that, to the PSNI a couple of days ago and the PSNI have been conspicuous in their silence since.

Some people have said this is a very clever move by Gerry Adams because it will force the PSNI to say “no” we don’t want to interrogate or question Gerry Adams.

But on the other hand the PSNI might consider it wiser to leave the option open and not to give him an answer at this stage. What all that is about I am not entirely sure.

But from what we know – and incidentally – the only person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to the Jean McConville disappearance in our interviews that I know of is Brendan Hughes. Everyone seems to forget this.

Dolours Price DID NOT MENTION the Jean McConville business in her interview with Anthony McIntyre.

Not once did the words “Jean” and “McConville” leave her lips!

She did not talk about her disappearance. She did not talk about the woman. She did not talk about how she was killed or anything like that.

That’s forgotten. It’s just assumed – as was assumed in those reports – none of which are based upon any research. None of those journalists bothered to ring me up, the director of this project, to ask basic, factual questions before they went on air.

I mean it’s astounding! The abysmal standard of journalism that we have in Northern Ireland these days. And that’s a perfect example.

There is only one person who has actually linked Gerry Adams to Jean McConville and that is Brendan Hughes.

Yes, Gerry Adams is coming on and painting with this hugely broad brush about what was said about him and Jean McConville in the Boston archive in fact it comes down to one person out of all of the ones that have been talked about.

Where do you hear that mentioned in the media reports? Not at all. It’s disgraceful!

JM: Ed, you’re talking about the small percentage of the tapes that were handed over. And it seems to be there might be six other people involved.

Do you know what the process that Boston College went through of the editing of these tapes? And who sat down and picked out which parts were going to be handed over?

EM: This is the interesting story, isn’t it?

As you know myself and Anthony McIntyre tried to get included in the case and we were consistently rebuffed. First of all at the district court level, then at the First Circuit level and then we tried to get into the Supreme Court and apparently we quite narrowly failed on that as well.

We were trying to argue that we had certain rights and what have you – those were not recognised by the courts. So the entire case in relation to dealing with the tapes was left to Boston College.

They claimed at district court level that the librarian at Boston College when asked by the judge to go through the interviews and to hand over to him those interviews which were respondent to the subpoena he claims, can you believe, that he had not read one of them and didn’t know what was in them.

Now you can take that with as large a pinch of salt as you can possibly manage to get between your forefinger and your thumb.

But anyway that’s what he said so the judge said well in that case I’ll go through them all. Hand over the entire archive to me. So Boston College handed over the entire archive to the judge, Judge Young, in the district court.

When the case was then lost and Boston College announced that it was not going to appeal and the process of resisting the subpoena as far as they were concerned was over there was an outraged reaction from all sorts of people, not least ourselves, leading the criticism of Boston College for abject cowardice.

That forced them into a re-think.

And the re-think was that they then appealed to the First Circuit that only those interviews which actually dealt with and were respondent to subpoena – i.e. dealt with the Jean McConville case – should be handed over.

So originally something like forty-six or forty-seven interviews were to be handed over (if not more) but as a result of that action and the judgment of the First Circuit that was reduced down to eleven out of forty-six.

So as result of that a very, very much smaller number of interviews were put at risk as a result.

But no thanks to Boston College. None of this need have happened. If they had been honest at the outset and told the judge: Yeah – we’ll go away and look at them and we’ll give you over – they could have handed over even less if they really wanted to.

I know, for example, that one of these interviews – it was handed over on the basis of a question and answer which amounted to: did you know anything about the “unknown cells”. (This was unknown cell that “disappeared” people.) Answer: I heard of them but didn’t know anything about them.

And on the basis of that or a question very similar to that an interview was handed over and therefore, in the words of Tommie Gorman and Sharon O’Neill, that is then translated into really crucial, exciting evidence about Jean McConville’s disappearance.

A lot of nonsense being is talked. Very little research, very few questions being asked by the media and the result is what we have.

SB: Ed, thank you very much for setting the record straight. This is an incredibly important case and we’re going to continue to keep on top of it. I think we’ll be back next week with more on this subject. So thank you very much, Ed.

EM: No problem.

(ends time stamp 53:20)

Bell gets bail as PSNI postpone Adams response

Bell gets bail as PSNI postpone Adams response
Irish Republican News
March 29, 2014

The PSNI have yet to say if they are seeking to question Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams following the arrest and charging of his former comrade, Ivor Bell, on IRA charges last week.

The 77-year-old war veteran, who left the IRA 29 years ago, received High Court bail this week after being refused by the Magistrates Court where he was charged last Friday. His arrest last week was based on recorded and supposedly ‘confidential’ interviews that he gave to researchers in the USA.

The family of British informer Jean McConville have said they want to see Mr Adams charged alongside Mr Bell in connection with her 1972 shooting.

In court last week, the validity of the interviews — part of a series of conflict-related archives for Boston College — was questioned by Mr Bell’s lawyer. Peter Corrigan pointed out that a man codenamed ‘Mr Z’ in the transcripts, who the prosecution claim is his client, had denied involvement in the murder. He said: “Mr Z clearly said in these transcripts: ‘I had nothing to do with Jean McConville’s murder’.”

The lawyer pointed out that Mr Bell suffered from serious health problems, including two heart attacks in 2003 and 2006. He also suffered an angina attack during interrogation at Antrim last week, among other serious medical conditions.

“He has every incentive to attend court to prove his innocence. Are the prosecution seriously suggesting that a man in this serious ill health who can’t walk up steps is going to abscond for an offence where he has every incentive to attend court?,” Mr Corrigan argued.


Between five and ten years ago, several ex-IRA members made a series of recorded biographies as part of a controversial ‘oral history’ project in which they talked openly about their lives in the armed struggle. Journalist Ed Moloney and former republican prisoner Anthony McIntyre were paid to research and conduct the interviews.

Those interviewed were told none of the details would be made public until after their deaths, although few safeguards were put in place to counter the eventual legal intervention by the British authorities. In 2010, Moloney wrote a well-received book based on the project’s interviews with Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, who died in 2008.

The motivation of both McIntyre and Moloney is a matter of ongoing public debate. McIntyre, a blogger, has said he is opposed to the political direction of Sinn Fein and the Provisional movement, but he has also strongly condemned the breakaway IRA groups.

Sinn Fein has described the Boston College project as a “touters [informers] charter”, and said it was engineered by two people who wre ‘out to get Adams’.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gerry Adams himself described the project as an “entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort” by those involved. He said the idea for the project originated with an advisor to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and was taken up by two men who “are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Fein peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Fein and its leadership.”

In his blog, McIntyre responded that the project “was an important and valuable contribution to Irish history, one that society will be better for having rather than denied”. He said the material was being ‘abused’ by the PSNI and the British State who he said were “intent on prosecuting the past in the absence of any mature politicians willing to come to grips with dealing with the past”.

In his own response, Ed Moloney said he does not “give a tinkers” whether Gerry Adams was ever a member of the IRA, something which the Sinn Fein leader has long denied, to the annoyance of all sides in the conflict.

“When a major political leader tells such an obvious falsehood about a defining part of his life,” Moloney said, “then I do believe that it the journalist’s job, and the historian’s too, to subject that claim to the most stringent scrutiny.


However, the arrest of Bell suggests that it is not Mr Adams, but his opponents, who are the PSNI’s primary targets. Bell was campaign manager for independent republican Ciaran Mulholland, who is standing in local elections in May against Sinn Fein and other nationalist candidates. Mulholland described the arrest as political.

In a recent interview, he said there was more evidence “pointing at other individuals that haven’t even been as much as questioned” in respect of the McConville incident. He pointed to the case of another republican veteran and independent election candidate, Gerry McGeough, who was unexpectedly arrested at an election count centre in County Tyrone in 2007. McGeough was subsequently returned to prison.

“When anyone tries to offer an alternative, give a voice to alternative Republicanism they seem to be either incarcerated, subjected to smear campaigns or just intimidated,” Mulholland said.

He contrasted the situation with those Sinn Fein supporters formerly ‘on the run’ (OTR) who controversially received letters to confirm they are no longer being pursued, such as Donegal man John Downey who was recently cleared of IRA charges at London’s Old Bailey.

“Mr Downey is still very much with the Sinn Fein movement but it seems to be that some people’s rights are more important than other people’s rights,” he said. “And there’s a lack of consistency when it comes to the law depending on what your political aspirations are.”

TRANSCRIPT: The arrest of Ivor Bell and oral history archive The Belfast Project

Topic: The arrest of Ivor Bell and oral history archive The Belfast Project
BBC Radio
Good Morning Ulster
26 March 2014

Programme Hosts Karen Patterson (KP) and Noel Thompson (NT)
Reporters Conor Macauley (CM) and Andy Martin (AM)
The Belfast Project Researcher Dr. Anthony McIntyre (DrMc) and
Lecturer and Coordinator for the Criminology and Criminal Justice LLM programmes at Queens University Belfast School of Law Marny Requa,J.D.(MR)

(begins 8:07AM)

KP: It was meant to be an oral history of The Troubles. A first-hand account from Loyalists and Republicans who’d been involved in the violence. But now it looks as if the Boston College project may come back to bite some of the participants with their words potentially being used as evidence against them.

NT: Conor Macauley reports on a story which has seen the Sinn Féin President ask police if they want to speak to him about a murder committed forty years ago.

CM: Anthony McIntyre started doing the interviews in 2001. Over five years he recorded two hundred sessions with twenty-six Republicans who spoke candidly of their involvement in The Troubles. The archive was placed in a secure vault in a library at Boston College.

In 2011, detectives investigating the 1972 IRA murder of mother of ten Jean McConville, one of “the disappeared”, sought access to it believing it could help them catch the killers.

Anthony McIntyre, himself a former IRA prisoner, thought his interviewees had a cast iron guarantee from the college that the stories they had told were secure. He wasn’t aware of a US-UK treaty, called MLAT for short, under which the PSNI applied for the tapes.

DrMc: Had myself or Ed Moloney been aware of the MLAT treaty and that the MLAT treaty would permit the British to raid the archive we would never have been involved.

What was the point? What was the purpose?

We would not have been involved had we’d been uncertain about the Absolute nature of the guarantees given.

CM: Nine interviewees had talked about Jean McConville, among them Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, both now dead. Their accounts were handed over and a second subpoena arrived looking for more.

Eventually a further eleven interviews given by seven other people were released. Each interviewee had been given a letter code to preserve their anonymity. “Person Z” had given forty-two interviews to Anthony McIntyre; two of them were handed over.

In a Belfast court last week the prosecution claimed “Person Z” was seventy-seven year old veteran Republican Ivor Bell who has now been charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville.

Anthony McIntyre again:

DrMc: I think it leaves the, not just the archives that I have worked on, but I think it leaves the archives that are of this nature throughout the world in a very precarious situation.

I think there’s a comment from Kevin Cullen in an article in The Boston Globe today in which he says that the oral history and that type of archiving is as dead and in the grave with Mrs. Jean McConville.

CM: Gerry Adams has been accused before of giving the order for Jean McConville’s murder. He’s always denied it.

He’s been highly critical of the Boston College project and its authors. Last week he told his solicitor to ask the police if they wanted to talk to him about the murder.

We already know that he’s been implicated in at least one of the taped interviews now in the possession of detectives. Which leads to the question of whether such interviews might ever be admissible at any trial.

Marny Requa lectures in Criminal Justice at the School of Law at Queens. She says it depends on whether the person has implicated themselves or someone else.

First, the self-implication:

MR: In a general sense it would be admissible unless the defendant makes an application that there’s something about the interview that took place that renders the admission unreliable. So something that was said or done at the time that they were questioned that makes that confession unreliable.

CM: And then if someone, in the course of a statement or an interview of some kind, implicates someone else?

MR: That statement is considered a hearsay statement whether or not that person ends up testifying at trial or not.

I guess you could say the general rule is that hearsay in not admissible unless it falls through one of the categories of admissibility.

So there would be an application made for this hearsay to be admitted. And it would have to be up to the judge to consider various categories for admissibility and whether or not it essentially would be fair for that statement to be admitted at trial.

CM: Gerry Adams claims that Anthony McIntyre and the people he interviewed have an anti-Sinn Féin agenda and a personal animosity towards him in particular.

DrMc: People with a perspective opposed to my own political perspective did contribute to the project.

I’m not saying there was many of them but that voice was heard. That voice was represented. As Ed Moloney has argued we took what we could get and who we could get.

If ever this archive is ever fully revealed I think people will be surprised as to the type of people that we did get to talk to us.

KP: Conor Macauley there and the BBC’s Ireland Reporter Andy Martin has been following the story. He joins us now. Andy, what happens next?

AM: The simple answer, Karen, is that nobody knows.

The evidence from the Boston archive will now be placed before the courts and it is not at all clear how much of it will be admissible. In the case of Ivor Bell there’s obviously a lot of speculation that it could lead to a kind of outpouring of information about what happened during The Troubles specifically within the IRA during the 70′s.

But I think there are a few points that are worth making: We can’t say for sure that this will go to full trial. There will be a lot of legal argument. And Ivor Bell is represented by a successful law firm that is very, very confidant.

And when we look at present cases for murders in which there has been DNA evidence and even on occasion ballistics they have failed to result in a conviction. And you look at a murder forty years old in which, to our knowledge, no such evidence exists then you get a sense of the challenge faced by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Ed Moloney, the Director of The Boston College Project, told me that when the transcripts were handed over that it was likely that one way or another it would result with the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams ending up in court whether that be a civil hearing or criminal one. And Jean McConville’s family have in the past said that they would be willing to take a civil case. So there are a lot of unquantifiable elements in all of this.

And the one thing that we can say for sure is that neither Ed Moloney Anthony McIntyre will give evidence. Ed Moloney has form, in that sense in terms of protecting journalistic sources, and both men live outside the jurisdiction in any case.

KP: But where does this leave the project then, Andy? Can the PSNI access all of the interviews?

AM: I think it’s widely accepted there won’t be one like it again.

Those involved are now in a very unenviable position. Mainstream Republicanism has really been quite aggressive in its language about the project and Anthony McIntyre has even been referred to as an “informer” and in Republican circles that is a very uncomfortable thing to have said about you. And he has spoken about feeling under threat.

But it’s also worth noting that on the Republican side of the Boston project there were two hundred interviews conducted over five years. Now twenty-six people spoke to Anthony McIntyre but but only eleven of those interviews have been released and they only relate to seven people all of whom mentioned Jean McConville.

So what the PSNI has is specific and targeted towards one murder.

If the PSNI want to get more information from the archive they will have to receive specific information and to go back to through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process – to go back through courts potentially in the United States and maybe even an appeals process.

So it is not the case that all of the interviews in the hands of the police nor are all of the interviews of the seven people who mentioned Jean McConville in the hands of the police.

For the police’s part they have been accused of political decision-making in all of this. They point out they have a duty and law to pursue any evidential leads and when they heard about the tapes, the existence of the tapes and whenever it was indicated that Jean McConville’s murder had been mentioned, they say that they were compelled to go and get them.

KP: Andy Martin, thank you.

(ends 8:16AM)

Troubles echo in IRA trial

Troubles echo in IRA trial
Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe
March 25, 2014

I never thought I’d type these words: A former IRA commander has been charged with one of the most horrific murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, based on information gathered by Boston College as part of an oral history project.

Ivor Bell is awaiting trial in Belfast on charges he aided and abetted the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, shot, and secretly buried by the IRA after she was accused of being an informer.

Bell’s lawyer said Bell was innocent, but acknowledged that Bell was the man referred to as Mr. Z in a series of tape-
recorded interviews made by a researcher hired by BC to compile recollections of republicans and loyalists who fought in Northern Ireland.

That researcher, former Irish Republican Army volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre, told me from Ireland that he expects police to knock on his door any day. If they do, they’ll be wasting their time. “I wouldn’t even tell them hello,” he said.

Neither will Bell, 77, who was a senior IRA commander before his star dimmed considerably after overseeing a 1984 gunrunning mission out of Boston that was compromised by an IRA turncoat in Ireland. A Quincy man, John McIntyre, who was part of the crew of the Gloucester trawler Valhalla, was murdered by South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger after he was blamed for giving up the mission.

Bell fell out of favor with the IRA after the Irish Navy seized a ton of weapons, supplied by Boston criminals and worth more than $1 million, while arresting a group of IRA men. Bell’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan, said Bell left the IRA the following year.

Bell was among a group of IRA veterans who opposed the compromise accepted by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in 1998, effectively ending the Troubles.

Now, police would love Bell to implicate his former comrade turned foe, Adams, who has repeatedly denied involvement in McConville’s murder. Adams says BC naively allowed McIntyre, who openly opposed his leadership, to interview former IRA members who were inclined to implicate him for political reasons.

McConville’s children believe that Adams was behind their mother’s murder and insist he face justice. But this debacle has never been about justice. It’s about politics, specifically about sticking it to Adams and his party. Jean McConville’s children deserve to know who murdered their mother, a crime against humanity that split them up as kids into a series of foster homes. But the prosecution is so biased and politically motivated as to undermine all credibility.

The police in Northern Ireland have shown no interest in the other half of the oral history project: interviews with loyalists, who presumably could shed light on state-sanctioned murders they carried out with the covert assistance of the police and British military.

Ed Moloney, the journalist who oversaw the Belfast Project paid for and archived by Boston College, called Bell’s arrest “a cheap publicity stunt” by police and prosecutors who know that the oral histories, given to an academic by people who were neither under oath nor given legal warnings about self-incrimination, will not stand up as evidence in court.

As critical as he is of the authorities in Northern Ireland, Moloney said it wouldn’t have gotten this far if the US Department of Justice had rebuffed British authorities who asked their American counterparts to gain custody of the BC tapes, or if BC officials were willing to risk fines and even imprisonment to defy the government.

BC spokesman Jack Dunn said BC could not defy a court order to give up some of the tapes.

What a mess. An American university has been unwittingly and unwillingly used by a foreign government, with the acquiescence of the US government, to build a criminal case.

Oral history and academic freedom are dead and gone. They’re in the grave with Jean McConville.

Anthony McIntyre Response to Gerry Adams’ Comments on Boston College’s Belfast Project

Anthony McIntyre Statement in response to Gerry Adams’ Comments on Boston College’s Belfast Project
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Belfast Project was an important and valuable contribution to Irish history, one that society will be better for having rather than denied.

The abuse of this historical material by the PSNI and British State, who are intent on prosecuting the past in the absence of any mature politicians willing to come to grips with dealing with the past, is robbing the next generation not only of their own history – whichever perspective they come from – but runs the risk of condemning their future as well.

US federal judge William Young, who unlike Mr Adams has studied the contents of the Boston College archives, has stated in his judgement that it was ‘a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.’

In contrast, Mr Adams’ disavowal of his central role in the direction of the IRA campaign is lacking in anything that would remotely resemble intellectual merit or honesty. His narrative has been both self-serving and bogus. Mr Adams would find it difficult to lie in bed straight he is so crooked.

Mr Adams’ concern for the McConville family is equally as fraudulent, as demonstrated by the shoddy falsehood he foisted on family members with his claim to them that he was in prison at the time of the disappearance of Jean McConville.

The truth that the family of Jean McConville deserve to have is a truth that would herald the end of Mr Adams’ political career. This is why he has done everything in his power to prevent it emerging.

Mr Adams’ attempts to insinuate that his critics are somehow egregious or dishonest because they do not subscribe to his false narrative of a peace process which depicts him as a man of peace with no account of his role as a man of war, is his own distorted personal attack. It is consistent with his long evident dictatorial impulse to control the narrative and marginalise dissent from it.

Mr Adams’ time would be better spent securing an approach to the past that does not allow the British state to politically continue a cold war here that will only embed the conflict further. Attacking researchers for gathering Ireland’s history serves nothing bar his career. How many republicans, and victims, must be sacrificed to protect his career?

Adams criticises Boston Oral History Project

Adams criticises Boston Oral History Project
by Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Fein
24 March, 2014

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD responding to media speculation that the PSNI may be interested in speaking to him in reference to the Jean McConville case said:

“I can understand the McConville family’s anger and hurt given what they have been through and given what some anti-peace process former republican activists have been alleging.

However, let me repeat. What happened to Jean McConville was a terrible injustice. I was not involved in any part of it. If the PSNI wish to talk to me on this matter I am available to meet them. I have asked my solicitor to contact them.

It is clear that the so-called Boston Oral History project is an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort by those involved. The idea for this project originated with Paul Bew, an advisor to David Trimble and was taken up by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre who conducted the interviews. Both are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Féin and its leadership.

Some of the individuals interviewed have gone to great lengths to attack the republican struggle, the peace process and the political process through lies, distortions and personal attacks. The Boston History project is not a genuine oral history project.

The issue of the past needs to be dealt with and I and Sinn Féin are committed to this. We have argued for an independent, international, truth recovery process. However, if this cannot be agreed then we are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals.

These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”

Police want to quiz writer and former IRA man Anthony McIntyre over his interviews about killing

Jean McConville murder: Police want to quiz writer and former IRA man Anthony McIntyre over his interviews about killing

Former IRA man worked for oral history project
By Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
24 March 2014

The PSNI is seeking to question the former IRA man turned writer, Anthony McIntyre, about his Boston College interviews with former provisionals about Jean McConville’s murder.

As the interviewer for the US university’s oral history project, Mr McIntyre’s evidence would be crucial in the case against Ivor Bell and any other former IRA leaders who may in future be charged with involvement in the horrific 1972 abduction and killing.

The Belfast Telegraph has learned that detectives questioning Bell were “keenly interested” in Gerry Adams’ alleged role in the mother-of-10′s murder. The Sinn Fein president strongly denies any involvement in her death.

Belfast Magistrate’s Court heard on Saturday that Bell was an interviewee in one of the tapes known as ‘Man Z’ which Bell denies.

The 77-year-old is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville. Other ex-IRA members are expected to be arrested in the coming weeks by detectives who have in their possession tapes of seven republicans, who are all still alive, allegedly discussing the McConville killing.

It is understood the PSNI wants to question Mr McIntyre about Bell’s alleged interview, and the conditions in which it took place, in order to corroborate the claims allegedly made in the tape.

Mr McIntyre would be quizzed as to whether Bell was ‘Man Z’ and the validity of the recordings he made of his interviewees.

However, sources said there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which Mr McIntyre would co-operate with police. Refusal to do so could result in him facing charges of withholding information but the sources said he would “go to jail rather than compromise source protection”.

Mr McIntyre is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the issue is to be raised with the union this week.

The ex-IRA man has previously said he has “every sympathy with the McConville family in their search for truth recovery but journalists, academics, and researchers need protection if they are to gain the necessary information which offers a valuable insight into the past”.

As the lead researcher for the Belfast project for Boston College between 2001 and 2006, Mr McIntyre conducted over 170 interviews with 26 republicans.

They were undertaken on the agreement that the interviews wouldn’t be released until after the interviewee’s death.

Tapes of now deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – who both accused Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder – were handed over to the PSNI by Boston College.

However, a major legal battle followed over the taped interviews of republicans who are still alive.

Last June, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ordered that 11 interviews with seven other republicans – in which Jean McConville’s murder was mentioned – be given to the PSNI.

It is understood that in these tapes, other shootings, bombings and IRA activities are discussed.

However, the US courts gave the police the tapes under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which means that they can be used only in the Jean McConville murder inquiry and not in any other investigations.

The interviewees in Boston College’s Belfast project were all given code names. The PSNI has employed voice analysis technology in its efforts to link the tape interviews to known republicans.

It is understood detectives want to ask Mr McIntyre to corroborate their efforts to identify the republicans he interviewed.

Veteran republican in custody over murder charges

The police case against a veteran republican charged in connection with the notorious IRA murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at a US college, a court has heard.

The claim was made as Ivor Bell (77), was refused bail and remanded in custody by a district judge in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths – but that undertaking was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to the PSNI.

The interviews included claims about the murder of Mrs McConville, who was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan, representing Bell, told district judge Amanda Henderson on Saturday that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z’, was his client.

But the solicitor insisted the person interviewed on the tape had denied any involvement in the murder.

“During those interviews ‘Z’ explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Mr Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, as they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

Grey-haired Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast, sat impassively in the dock as his lawyer made the claims.

Some of Mrs McConville’s children watched from the gallery.

A PSNI detective inspector, who earlier told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges, rejected Mr Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.

The officer said he opposed bail on the ground that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction.

But Mr Corrigan said that was out of the question, noting that his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions and that his family was based in Belfast.

Judge Henderson said she was more convinced with the argument the prosecution had made.

Bell was remanded in custody to appear before court again next month.

After the hearing, Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s thoughts were with their mother.

“The pain of losing her has not diminished over the decades since she was taken from us, murdered, and secretly buried,” he said.

Four decades of a family’s search for truth and justice

May 1972: Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10, was dragged away from her children at their home in west Belfast’s Divis flats by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the Army in Belfast.

1999: After a group is set up to find the Disappeared, the IRA finally admits Mrs McConville was murdered.

Information is passed on to Gardai.

However, republicans secure legal guarantees that mean evidence given to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains is inadmissible in criminal proceedings.

August 2003: After several failed attempts to locate her remains, Mrs McConville’s remains are finally found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

March 2010: Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is accused by the late Belfast IRA commander Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes of setting up a secret unit that abducted Mrs McConville from her home and “disappeared” her, through a series of interviews for the Boston College Belfast Project.

February 2011: Mrs McConville’s family members visit the Louth constituency where Mr Adams is standing for election to urge voters to reject his election campaign.

Mr Adams strongly denies any prior knowledge that the widow was to be murdered and her body dumped or that he had any involvement.

November 2013: One of Mrs McConville’s children tells the BBC’s investigation programme Spotlight that she knows a number of the people who helped abduct her mother.

In another documentary, The Disappeared, Mr Adams is asked about allegations he had knowledge of her murder, which he strongly denies.

March 2014: Veteran republican Ivor Bell (77) is charged in connection with IRA membership, and aiding and abetting the murder of Mrs McConville following his arrest last Tuesday.

The PSNI seeks to question the former IRA man turned journalist, Anthony McIntyre, about his Boston College interviews with ex-provisionals on Mrs McConville’s murder.

How story of Boston tapes has unfolded

Q Who conducted the interviews for the Belfast Project oral history project at Boston College?

A Veteran journalist and author Ed Moloney was the project director. Dr Anthony McIntyre conducted the republican interviews while Wilson McArthur spoke to former loyalist paramilitaries.

Q Who was interviewed as part of the taped project?

A Boston College interviewed former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding that transcripts would not be published until after their deaths. However, a US court last year ordered that tapes which mention Jean McConville be handed over to the PSNI.

Q How many people were interviewed?

A Forty-six people gave recorded interviews detailing their involvement in terrorist violence to the project.

Q How were interviewees’ identities protected?

A They were all given code names. The PSNI has employed voice analysis technology in their efforts to link the interviews to known republicans.

Q What tapes have been released following the deaths of interviewees?

A The first to die was IRA member Brendan Hughes, who admitted taking part in the murder of Jean McConville. Brendan and deceased IRA member Dolours Price, whose recording was also handed over to the PSNI, accused Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder.

Q And what will happen now?

A Ed Moloney, Dr Anthony McIntyre and Wilson McArthur are planning to sue Boston College after it emerged the institution didn’t check its procedures on when controversial material would be published with its lawyers.

PSNI ‘still interested’ in Gerry Adams’ alleged role in McConville killing

PSNI ‘still interested’ in Gerry Adams’ alleged role in McConville killing
Suzanne Breen
Irish Independent
24 March 2014

DETECTIVES questioning Ivor Bell about the murder of Jean McConville are “keenly interested” in Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’s alleged role in the killing.

Sources close to the investigation said it was “far from over” and that detectives want more information on anyone suspected of involvement in the murder, including Mr Adams.

The Sinn Fein president strongly denies any involvement in the Belfast mother of 10′s abduction and death in 1972.

The PSNI is also seeking to question former IRA man turned writer Anthony McIntyre about his Boston College interviews with ex-Provisionals on Ms McConville’s murder.

As the interviewer for the US university’s oral history project, Mr McIntyre’s evidence would be crucial in the case against Bell – and any other alleged former IRA leaders who may in future be charged with involvement.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard on Saturday that Bell was an interviewee in one of the tapes and was known as ‘Man Z’ – something which Bell denies.

The 77-year-old is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville.

Other alleged former IRA members are expected to be arrested in coming weeks by detectives – who have in their possession tapes of seven republicans, who are all still alive, allegedly discussing the McConville killing.


It is understood the PSNI wants to question Mr McIntyre about Bell’s alleged interview and the conditions in which it took place, in order to corroborate the claims allegedly made on the tape.

Mr McIntyre would also be quizzed as to whether Bell was ‘Man Z’.

However, sources said there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which Mr McIntyre would co-operate with police.

Refusal to do so could result in him facing charges of withholding information – but the sources said he would “go to jail rather than compromise source protection”.

Mr McIntyre is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the issue is to be raised with the union this week.

The ex-IRA man has previously said he has “every sympathy with the McConville family in their search for truth recovery” – but added that “journalists, academics, and researchers need protection if they are to gain the necessary information which offers a valuable insight into the past”.

As the lead researcher for the Belfast project for Boston College between 2001 and 2006, Mr McIntyre conducted over 170 interviews with 26 republicans. They were undertaken on the agreement that they wouldn’t be released until after the interviewee’s death.

Tapes of now-deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – who both accused Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder – were handed over to the PSNI by Boston College.

However, a major legal battle followed over the taped interviews of republicans who are still alive.

TUV calls for more Boston tapes project arrests

TUV calls for more Boston tapes project arrests
News Letter
24 March 2014

TUV leader Jim Allister has questioned when others named in ‘the Boston tapes’ project will be arrested and charged.

According to US court records, 11 interviews have been passed to the PSNI in addition to all tapes from the late Brendan Hughes and Delours Price.

Mr Allister said: “It is imperative that the perception that some terror politicos are a ‘protected species’ is dispelled. Failure to act with equal effect against them would confirm that the perception is in fact reality.”

He added that “in the aftermath of the on the run scandal and its special status for Provos”, it is critical to any restoration of public confidence that anyone connected to the McConville murder is “pursued with vigour”.

On Saturday Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said “the killing of Jean McConville and the disappearing of her remains was wrong and a grievous injustice to her family”.

“The injustice suffered by the McConville family is one of many legacy issues relating to the conflict,” he said.

He added that “there has been a virtual amnesty for British armed forces including state and state-sponsored killings”.

“It is Sinn Fein’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process,” he added.

At the weekend Mrs McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry said she hopes to see Mr Adams in court.

She told a Sunday newspaper that she hopes the charging of Ivor Bell will be followed by the arrest of others.

The Sinn Fein president has repeatedly denied any connection to Mrs McConville’s murder or membership of the IRA.