CHRIS BRAY: PSNI Theatre of Shadows

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air
Chris Bray
Friday, July 11, 2014

In October 2012, news stories announced that the Police Service of Northern Ireland would be pursuing subpoenas of tapes and notes from interviews with former IRA member Dolours Price. The PSNI had already gone after Dolours Price interviews archived at Boston College, but this new effort was to be directed at the newspaper and TV journalists who had interviewed Price about the BC subpoenas. In the crosshairs: CBS News and the Sunday Telegraph.

More than a year and a half later, there is no evidence that those subpoenas ever arrived. When Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams emerged from his four-day interrogation at the PSNI’s Antrim station, he said that police had confronted him with material from the Boston College interviews; he made no mention of CBS or Telegraph materials. And my own tedious search of Pacer, the federal court case management website, turns up no evidence of subpoenas served on CBS News headquarters in New York.

To be sure, we can’t see very far into the underlying events, and it’s not clear what kind of contest may have taken place over this threat of subpoenas directed against journalists. I’ve been asking journalists and public affairs staff at CBS News and the Telegraph if they received subpoenas, or discussed the possibility of subpoenas with the PSNI, but those questions have gone entirely unanswered. Liz Young, the public affairs director at the PSNI, offered this careful non-answer to my questions: “Given that investigations are ongoing we are not in the position to either deny or confirm that a subpoena was sought and no inference should be taken from this.” So the conclusion has to balance the likely with the wholly unknown: It appears that the PSNI threatened journalists with subpoenas, but then didn’t follow through, and it’s not possible at this point to know why the threatened subpoenas apparently didn’t arrive.

Now: Spot the pattern. In May of this year, a new round of news stories announced that the PSNI would be seeking new subpoenas to secure every Belfast Project interview archived at Boston College. Again, no one is answering questions, but there’s no sign that those subpoenas have arrived.

Meanwhile, the high-profile arrest of Gerry Adams resulted in nothing more than the four-day-long collapse of the PSNI’s souffle. Three years after the Grand Inquisition began, Adams is a free man, and would not seem to have much reason to worry. The other big event in the PSNI’s supposed murder investigation was the March arrest of former IRA leader Ivor Bell, long purported to have been chief of staff to Adams in the 1970s IRA in Belfast. Bell was charged with aiding and abetting McConville’s murder, not with committing it; as yet, the PSNI hasn’t charged a single person with actually kidnapping McConville or actually killing her. And Bell is also a free man, released on bail as the Public Prosecution Service tries to decide whether or not to bother taking the charges to trial. They do not seem to be in any particular hurry.

So the PSNI’s “investigation” into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville — an investigation opened 39 years after the event — has made more noise than progress: some arrests that led to the release of those arrested; an arrest, with weak and likely to be abandoned charges, of someone who isn’t alleged to have killed McConville; and a storm of threats and promises that have mostly seemed to evaporate.

The available evidence continues to support the argument that I’ve now been making for more than three years: The PSNI is putting on a show, not a murder investigation.

But then spot the other pattern: Many news stories reported the PSNI’s claim that it would subpoena CBS News and the Telegraph; none reported that the subpoenas didn’t arrive. Many news stories reported that the PSNI would be pursuing the whole Belfast Project archive at Boston College; no news stories have reported that those new subpoenas haven’t been served. Many news stories reported the dramatic arrests of Adams and Bell; few journalists appear to have noticed that the air has leaked out of those arrests.

In Indonesia, puppeteers perform Wayang Kulit, a theater of shadows in which images are projected on a screen by performers who stand behind it. The PSNI is the Dalang, the puppeteer, in the shadow play of the Jean McConville “investigation.” And the news media continues to treat the play as real life.

Vortex of violence ensnared innocents such as Irish priest

Vortex of violence ensnared innocents such as Irish priest
By James F. Burns
Special to The Sun
The Gainesville Sun
7 June 2014

“Father! Come quickly — a terrible road accident and a lad needs last rites.” A knock on the door had summoned the Rev. Eugene McCoy to a sacred task. The Irish priest left in such haste with the men at his door that he forgot his rosary beads.

McCoy became suspicious when the car ferrying him to the accident scene suddenly swerved off the main road and pulled up in front of a ramshackle mobile home in a remote location. Taken inside, he was led to a back bedroom when he found a distraught young man bound hand and foot on the bed.

The priest had been tricked — but for a holy purpose — into being part of a paramilitary execution. He begged for Eamon Molloy’s life but to no avail. Death sentences are seldom commuted by the Irish Republican Army.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is a master magician. At least, that was Ed Moloney’s allegation in his 2002 book “A Secret History of the IRA.” Adams could make people disappear. He also excelled as a tightrope walker, gingerly treading the line linking politics with paramilitary activity. He would even carry coffins at IRA funerals and said he supported the IRA — but was never a member, mind you, another Houdini-like escape.

And like every good magician, Adams didn’t like secrets leaking out. Snitches were snuffed. And then made to disappear. Someone high up in the IRA command structure — Adams’ republican critics have nicknamed him “Itwasntme” — suggested that dumping bodies in the street had lost its deterrent effect and could even be embarrassing. Presto, Jean McConville, mother of 10, disappeared — for 31 years. Likewise, no one seemed to know where Eamon Molloy was — for 24 years. And so on.

And then the story moves to County Louth, Ireland’s littlest county and one right smack on the border created by the 1920 partition of Ireland into the six-county British province of Northern Ireland and the 26-county Irish Republic. The IRA was waging a war to erase that border; IRA math said that 26 + 6 = 1, i.e., a united Ireland. Their primarily-Protestant opponents did a different math, pointing out that “6 into 26 won’t go,” emphasis on “won’t” and with their own loyalist paramilitaries as enforcers.

Inevitably, the vortex of violence spilled over the border, ensnaring innocents such as McCoy, a County Louth parish priest. Louth was an ideal location for launching IRA attacks, secretly burying bodies, safe houses and field-testing bombs.

The 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement turned terrorism to truce for the most of the combatants but left a lot of legacy issues unresolved, such as unsolved murders and parade route and flag issues. But life went on, and efforts evolved to understand the three decades of chaos and killing.

One post-peace project was Boston College’s collection of oral histories — confessions, if you will — by both IRA and loyalist terrorists, a valuable resource for future research. The 46 participants were supposedly given an iron-clad guarantee that their taped testimony would remain sealed until after their deaths.

But U.S. law was “treaty-trumped” in court by a bilateral agreement with the U.K., allowing release of some tapes for criminal investigation of Jean McConville’s murder. And the deaths of two terrorists had already allowed Ed Moloney to convert their tapes into another book laden with more accusations against Gerry “Itwasntme” Adams.

Sorrow knows no border, grief no religion, pain no politics — which is to say that all families, all friends, who have had their loved ones murdered during the Troubles deserve sympathy and support. The recent 40th anniversary of the dastardly loyalist bombings of Dublin and Monaghan that claimed 33 lives, including a mother and her two infant daughters, bears witness to the heartbreak on both sides of the border, both sides of the sectarian divide.

And who could not feel compassion for poor Father McCoy, caught up in a killing he could not stop. And there’s the final Irish irony of this sad tale. Resolved to administering last rites to Eamon Molloy, he realized that he had indeed forgotten his rosary beads in the hasty departure from home.

In a mix of the sacred with the sordid, one of the IRA men reached into his pocket and handed the priest his own rosary beads. Was it the same hand that then pulled the trigger?

James F. Burns, a retired University of Florida professor, formerly taught at Boston College and also stayed in County Louth with his family while on sabbatical in the British Isles.

Ivor Bell: ‘Boston Project ‘full of inaccuracies’ says lawyer

Ivor Bell: ‘Boston Project ‘full of inaccuracies’ says lawyer
BBC News
6 June 2014

Ivor Bell denies aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville

The Boston College project, used to charge an alleged former IRA commander with aiding the murder of Jean McConville is full of inaccuracies, a court in Belfast has heard.

Mr Bell, 77, from Ramoan Gardens, Belfast, is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting the murder.

The prosecution case is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at Boston College.

His lawyer said some material disclosed violated an international treaty.

Defence lawyer Peter Corrigan said the Public Prosecution Service should now decide the evidence does not meet the standard for criminal prosecution.

Jean McConville, 37, became known as one of the Disappeared.

She was kidnapped in front of her children and accused of having been an informer. That claim was later dismissed following an official investigation.

She was held at one or more houses before being shot. Her body was recovered on a beach in County Louth in August 2003.

Several former paramilitaries were interviewed about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, last year a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.

It is alleged that Mr Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her.

The veteran republican – who is currently on bail – denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time.

On Friday, Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that his file would be allocated to a prosecutor within four weeks.

But his lawyer said significant developments about the Boston study raised serious issues about the material being used against his client.

“It’s very clear it was an intellectual, academic project, but was riddled with inaccuracies, unreliable and subjective,” he contended.

“Any material gleaned from that does not match the rigorous standards required for a criminal (case).

“The PPS (Public Prosecution Service) should take a view that this evidence is unreliable, has not been evaluated properly and should not be the basis of a criminal prosecution.”

Turning to the international treaty used to obtain the tapes, he argued that a US court ordered that only material related to the Jean McConville case was to be disclosed to the PSNI.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told Mr Bell was questioned for “numerous days” about interviewee Z.

“Throughout that interview, material from the start of the Troubles right up to the late 1980s was put in contravention of an international treaty direction,” Mr Corrigan said.

“The American court directed in good faith certain materials and only those materials.

“That has been violated and it has a serious implication on how this court approaches the evidence and an abuse of the process.”

Responding to his request for the PPS to carry out a review and provide an update, Judge Bagnall pointed out that a decision had yet to be taken on the prosecution.

Mr Corrigan also confirmed his client plans to rely on an alibi defence.

“The defendant has put forward an account of where he was at the material time and he requested during interviews that the police obtain all military and police logs and records to verify the assertion that he wasn’t in Belfast,” he said.

PODCAST: The IRA, the Boston College Tapes and Who Tells the Past?

Right Click to download: Who Tells the Past?

The IRA, the Boston College Tapes and who tells the past?
Fin Dwyer
Irish History Podcast
12 May 2014

In the last two weeks the Boston College Belfast Project has been brought centre stage since the arrest of Gerry Adams. This has had huge implications for history, as much of the questioning of Adams appears to have based on the projects archive seized by the P.S.N.I. in Boston.

This podcast begins by looking at the events in Ireland in 1972 and how it has come to pass that 42 years later one of the Ireland’s most prominent politicians arrested. What was in this historical archive? What are the rights of historians to record history vs. the rights of families of victims who may want to read private archives looking of answers? What are the rights of people to their good name when allegations are made about them in historical interviews? Finally perhaps the most important question for historians – who has the right to record our history? This show takes you through these controversial questions and indeed the interviews conducted with former members of the IRA revealing what the allegations made were.


Fin Dwyer is a historian, blogger and author. You can read his site at

Jean McConville’s daughter ‘shattered’ but will take civil action against Gerry Adams

Jean McConville’s daughter ‘shattered’ but will take civil action against Gerry Adams
by Philip Bradfield
News Letter
10 May 2014

A woman whose mother was “disappeared” by the IRA in 1972 says he was “shattered” after Gerry Adams was released from police questioning on the matter without charge on Sunday, but that she will press on with a civil action against him.

Helen McKendry is a daughter of mother-of-ten Jean McConville, who was abducted by the IRA from Divis Flats in west Belfast in 1972, shot in the head and buried on a Co Louth beach. Her remains were only found by accident 31 years later.

Helen told the News Letter yesterday she felt “shattered” after Sinn Fein President was released without charge by police last weekend.

“It did hit me to know he was released but I did not really expect anything else,” she said.

“We will wait and see what happens next.”

Police passed a file to the Public Prosecution Service who will decide whether or not to prosecute.

“But of course we will be taking a civil action against him because it does not look like a criminal trial will be possible.

“I just want to prove to the world that Gerry Adams was involved in my mother’s murder.”

Mr Adams vehemently rejects allegations he was involved in any way in the abduction, murder or burial of Jean McConville.

The day her mother, a widow, was taken Helen was 15 years old.

She had gone to the shops and when she came back her brothers and sisters were hysterical and her mother was gone.

Her father had died just 11 months earlier from cancer.

Helen now lives near Killyleagh in Co Down.

“People have been coming up to me while I am out shopping to let me know their feelings about how wrong it all was,” she said.

Sinn Fein held a rally in west Belfast last weekend in support of Gerry Adams, only a stone’s throw from where their family flat was.

But Helen says it was very small by west Belfast standards.

Helen claims she has the names of the people who took part in her mother’s abduction – but because she was not an actual witness, her word cannot be used as evidence in court.

“Sinn Fein dismiss me now. They refuse to meet with me. But nobody can tell me to shut up about my mother.

“I will keep talking until the day I die,” she said.

Hate campaign against me has ratcheted up since Adams arrest, says IRA historian

Hate campaign against me has ratcheted up since Adams arrest, says IRA historian


See also: Threats to Reseacher

Anthony McIntyre fears for his safety after police question the Sinn Féin leader over death of Jean McConville
Henry McDonald
The Observer
Saturday 3 May 2014

Anthony McIntyre, the former IRA life sentence prisoner-turned-writer, whose unprecedented and candid interviews with former comrades have put Gerry Adams in the frame for one of the most notorious killings of the Northern Ireland Troubles, is no stranger to hostility from within the republican movement.

He has previously faced angry protests outside his home for highlighting IRA activities in the 2000s, despite the group’s ceasefire, including the murder of a dissident republican in west Belfast. But now McIntyre fears for his safety after some of the material he recorded from former IRA men and women prompted the Police Service of Northern Ireland to arrest Adams for questioning about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, wrongly accused of being a police informer by the republican movement.

As the backlash against Adams’s detention builds across republican redoubts in Northern Ireland, McIntyre said that hatred against him and others involved in the project among Sinn Féin supporters is intensifying.

McIntyre was the lead researcher who interviewed dozens of former IRA members for the Boston College Belfast Project, an oral history of the Troubles from those who were actively involved in violent loyalist and republican armed campaigns. Those taking part in the project, which began in 2001, were all promised that none of the taped material, much of it candid confessions of their own role in violence, would be released until their deaths.

But a landmark legal judgment in the US supreme court has resulted in the Boston College authorities handing over 10 taped testimonies of IRA activists that included material about the kidnapping, killing and secret burial of McConville, it was confirmed this weekend. The 10 are believed to mention Adams as an IRA commander involved in the decision that she be killed and then secretly buried for being an informer. Adams denies any involvement in the killing, and says he was never a member of the IRA.

The 10 tapes have played a critical role leading to Adams’s arrest – a move that is now threatening to undermine Sinn Féin support for policing and with it endangering the entire power-sharing settlement in Northern Ireland. McIntyre, known as Mackers to friends, moved from the stormy atmosphere of west Belfast nearly a decade ago to a quiet housing estate in the seaside town of Drogheda across the border in Co Louth. He lives with his wife and two children.

McIntyre told the Observer: “The hate has been ratcheted up since the Adams arrest.” He added that he and his family had already been the target of mainstream republicans after a tape from the former hunger striker Brendan Hughes was published as part of a book in 2010. Voices from the Grave by journalist Ed Moloney included Hughes, the former Belfast IRA commander, alleging that Adams gave the order to have McConville “disappeared” for allegedly being a British army agent. On the tape Hughes said Adams did not want to cause the republican movement political embarrassment by being seen to murder the mother of 10 children. Hughes also claimed on tape that Adams set up a covert IRA unit called the Unknowns, tasked with weeding out informers from the organisation and the wider republican community in the early 1970s.

One of their orders, allegedly from Adams, was to “disappear” or secretly bury informers, Hughes said. Up to 16 people were buried in unmarked graves across Ireland and, as in Jean McConville’s case, the IRA later put out bogus stories about them abandoning their families and fleeing to England.

As pressure builds on McIntyre over the Adams arrest, he is bitterly critical of the role Boston College had played in the controversy. “I believe Boston College was not fully committed to the protection of its research participants. Its lack of resolve has put both me and the research participants in a position that is close to precarious. Martin McGuinness [Sinn Féin's deputy first minister of Northern Ireland], has been accusing us of being in consort with the ‘dark half’ of the PSNI. Danny Morrison [Sinn Féin's former publicity director] has been labelling us touts [informers].

“The former mayor of Derry, Sinn Féin’s Kevin Campbell, has been tweeting that the Boston College project is a touting programme. The home next door to me was smeared with excrement after extracts of Voices from the Grave were published in 2010,” he said.

Asked why he did not envisage the legal arguments that would have led to the seizure of the Boston College Belfast Project tapes by the PSNI, McIntyre replied: “Obviously we did not see the pitfalls. Had we done so we would never have engaged. Boston College, with its phalanx of lawyers, failed to warn us or warn the people we interviewed that there were pitfalls. They persistently and adamantly claimed to have covered all bases.” The PSNI successfully used a UK-US agreement, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, to argue that they were entitled to examine those tapes on which IRA members allegedly talked about the McConville murder.

But Boston College has claimed that McIntyre, Moloney and Bob O’Neill from the Burns Library on the American campus were all aware of the treaty and its implications for material that focused on the commission of a crime in the UK, namely the McConville murder.

A spokesman said: “Boston College’s attorneys did everything in their power to oppose the subpoenas. Once the US federal courts issued their final decision, Boston College had no choice but to comply. The reality is that the first subpoena was issued when Ed Moloney released his book and subsequent documentary, Voices from the Grave. The publicity surrounding their release, coupled with the Dolours Price interview in the Irish media in which she implicated herself and [allegedly] Gerry Adams in the abduction of Jean McConville, led to the PSNI’s decision to seek the first subpoena.”

A Boston College spokesman claimed that a subsequent Moloney interview with the Boston Globe “undoubtedly led the PSNI to seek the second subpoena for the remaining IRA tapes”.

Speaking in New York on Friday night, Moloney expressed his own concern over McIntyre’s safety. “I have a degree of protection by virtue of being a journalist but I am deeply worried about Mackers’s position and his family. I know the sort of people who are making the threats, and they can be dangerous when spurred on by spin doctors,” he said.

Moloney challenged McGuinness and others in the Sinn Féin leadership to condemn those “inciting hatred” against McIntyre and his family. He also criticised Boston College for handing over the tapes and claimed it would have implications globally for any historical project about conflicts.

One person in favour of handing over the tapes to the PSNI is Helen McKendry, Jean McConville’s eldest surviving daughter. Last week the British government ruled that there would be no judicial inquiry into the deaths of 11 civilians, including a Catholic priest, in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast at the hands of British troops in August 1971. McKendry said she supported the families of the Ballymurphy victims in their quest for truth and justice.

“If British soldiers involved in the Ballymurphy massacre or Bloody Sunday gave taped testimony about what they did back then, I would support moves by police to get at that material too. Victims deserve the truth, and if the police, whether if it’s in the case of my mother or the victims of the British army, need that kind of testimony then justice says they should get it,” she said.

Despite the vitriol heaped on him, McIntyre said their project still offered an alternative to the “political and legal fiction constructed for its ability to facilitate the peace process rather than produce accuracy”.


See also: Threats to Reseacher

Adams detention could hasten civil action

Adams detention could hasten civil action
Philip Bradfield
News Letter
3 May 2014

A son-in-law of Jean McConville believes that circumstances are coming together that will facilitate a long hoped for civil action against Gerry Adams for his alleged role in the mother-of-10’s murder.

Seamus McKendry said yesterday that he hoped the arrest of Mr Adams would speed up the point at which the Boston Tapes – containing interviews with republicans about the murder – could be released by the PSNI to his legal team.

A criminal prosecution must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. However, civil actions must only prove their case on ‘the balance of probability’ – a much easier prospect to achieve.

“We have been wanting to bring a civil action for 20 years,” Mr McKendry, husband of Jean’s daughter Helen, told the News Letter yesterday.

“Disappearing people is against the Geneva Convention. That means it is a war crime for Jean’s murderers to be walking down the streets when Milosevic and his friends were brought to trial for the same thing.”

At present he is putting together a business plan for the prosecution, and consulting with legal experts.

He has found three private sector backers who have expressed an interest in supporting the litigation financially.

“We are also looking at setting up a crowd funding web site on the internet to allow ordinary members of the public to contribute to the fund,” he added.

“I believe Gerry Adams was being protected for a long time to some degree to try and protect the peace process. But now I think they know it can survive without him, especially after how he handled his brother’s child sex abuse.”

Mr McKendry said he had asked the PSNI if he could have sight of the Boston Tapes as handed over by the US government, but has been refused at this time.

Michael Gallagher, whose son was killed in the Omagh bomb and who helped lead the successful civil action against those responsible, told the News Letter that the PSNI released all related files to his legal team under disclosure – but only after they found they could proceed no further with a criminal prosecution.

Mr McKendry was not sure if Mr Adams would be charged by police.

“I just don’t know at this stage if they have enough evidence to charge him,” he said. “Perhaps it would be a good time for the British government to give a full explanation as to why they sprang him from Long Kesh in 1974 to engage in talks with them? We have been fighting this battle at some level ever since.”

Meanwhile, the one seasoned observer of Irish America also noted yesterday an “almost total absence” of any voices protesting against the arrest of Mr Adams.

‘I Am Innocent': Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams Questioned Over Murder

‘I Am Innocent': Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams Questioned Over Murder
By Alastair Jamieson
NBC News

His leadership in the Northern Ireland peace process earned him handshakes with U.S. presidents, but republican leader Gerry Adams awoke in a police cell Thursday following his arrest over an historic murder that came to epitomize the region’s violent past.

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 fought to make Northern Ireland independent from Great Britain.

The 65-year-old’s dramatic arrest highlighted the remarkable transformation of its key players from outlaws to global statesmen.

Adams’ detention was triggered by beyond-the-grave confessions from former IRA bombers and commanders as part of a U.S. oral history project, underscoring the deep scars left by the conflict.

“This will have a big impact,” David McKittrick, author of “Lost Lives” and “Making Sense of the Troubles,” told the BBC. “Gerry Adams is one of the most famous Irishmen in the world and instead of being in parliament in Dublin or Belfast, he is in a police cell. It is very significant.”

Adams, who is the president of the Sinn Fein political party, has always denied any role in McConville’s killing.

He questioned the timing of his detention only three weeks ahead of important elections.

“I am innocent, totally, of any part in the, the abduction, the killing or the burial of Jean McConville,” Adams told reporters at a Belfast police station where voluntarily went to be questioned. His party deputy, Mary-Lou McDonald, described the timing as “politically contrived.”

Adams’ arrest followed a legal battle over Boston College’s ‘Belfast Project’ tapes — a powerful series of confessional recordings made in 2001 by former militants on the understanding that the contents would not be released until the death of all the participants.

Police in Northern Ireland sought to obtain transcripts of the interviews after one of the participants, Dolours Price, claimed publicly that she had driven McConville to the scene of her the killing. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the college project’s leaders against the decision to release the transcripts.

Among the subpoenaed recordings handed over was an interview with a former IRA commander, Brendan Hughes, who also named Adams in McConville’s death.

Adams is the seventh person to be arrested over the case since the transcripts were handed over. He can be held for questioning for up to 48 hours, at which point he must be charged or released unless investigators apply to courts for an extension.

“If they want to start reexamining everyone’s position, including members of the British government, they are going to open up a lot of old wounds,” said New York Congressman Peter King, who noted that Adams played an important role in the peace process.

“He was more instrumental than anyone,” he said, adding: “The political implications of this [arrest] when there is growing tension in Northern Ireland anyway … this will only add to it.”

McKittrick, the author, questioned whether the tapes could be used as evidence. Participants in the Belfast Project “may have spoken very freely” under assurances of confidentiality, he said.

“Those assurances turned out not to be the case. I’m not sure how much of what they said would stand up in court.”

Deep sectarian divisions

Even by the standards of a conflict in which thousands of civilians were killed by Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups, McConville’s execution stands out as pitiless.

Born a Protestant, she converted to Catholicism after marrying a Catholic man who served in the British Army –- two rarities that made her a target for suspicion amid the deep sectarian divisions of the 1970s.

The IRA, which wrongly believed she was an informant for British authorities, abducted her in front of her children and buried her on a beach in County Louth. Her body wasn’t found until 2003.

One of her sons, Michael McConville, told the BBC on Thursday that he knows who took his mother because some of the gang were not wearing masks, but added that he would never tell police out of fear of retribution.

“I was 11 years of age when the IRA gang came in and pulled our mother out of our arms,” he said. “They barged their way in. Me and all my brothers and sisters was holding onto my mother, crying and squealing.

“I knew my mother was dead about two weeks later when an IRA man had came and left my mother’s purse and her wedding rings at the house. We never spoke about it because we were taken into care and split up into different homes.”

He said he was himself beaten with sticks a week after his mother’s disappearance and told never to reveal the names of those responsible.

“I never told anyone who it was. I still haven’t old anyone who it is. I do know the names of the people. I wouldn’t tell the police. If I told the police now … me or one of my family members or one of my children would get shot by these people.

“Everybody thinks this is all gone away -– it hasn’t gone away. There’s a lot of splinter groups from the IRA … they would class you as an informant and they would shoot you.”

He said he had seen the perpetrators in public “on many occasions,” adding: “When I see them my blood boils in my body … I can’t stand these people for what they done.”

“I have a young family. I don’t want nothing to happen to them. If think if my mother was alive today she wouldn’t want anything to happen to them. I hope everybody understand the situation that me and my family is in.”

Gerry Adams arrested: Jean McConville’s son says IRA will kill him if he names mother’s killers

Gerry Adams arrested: Jean McConville’s son says IRA will kill him if he names mother’s killers
By Michael McHugh and David Young
Belfast Telegraph
01 May 2014

The son of a woman abducted and murdered by the IRA says he will not tell police who was responsible in case he is shot.

Michael McConville was speaking as police quizzed Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams about the killing.

Jean McConville disappeared from west Belfast in 1972. Mr Adams was arrested at Antrim police station last night.

Mr McConville said he recognised local faces when the gang arrived to drag his mother away screaming in terror, but he said if he told police he would be an informer.

“Everybody thinks that the IRA has gone away but they have not. If we tell we will be shot.”

He noted that suspected dissident republicans opposed to the peace process shot a man dead in west Belfast last week.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected suggestions from senior Sinn Fein figures that the arrest of Mr Adams had been politically motivated.

“What is the most important thing here? The most important fact is that Jean McConville was murdered, a widowed mother-of-10 children, and her body was not found for very many years,” Mr Kenny said.

“This is still a live murder case, this is still a live investigation.

“All I can say is that I hope the president of Sinn Fein answers in the best way he can, to the fullest extent that he can, questions that are being asked about a live murder investigation.”

Meanwhile, another senior figure in Ireland’s coalition government, Labour deputy leader Joan Burton, said the murder of Mrs McConville was a war crime for which all people involved should be brought to justice.

“If what happened to Jean McConville and her family had happened in any other country it would be treated properly as a war crime,” she said.

Ms Burton said Mrs McConville was executed and her body treated like a dog.

“Gerry Adams just will not disassociate himself from the organisation that did that,” she said.

She added that certain standards in relation to war crimes have to be acknowledged and addressed.

Mr Adams wrote to the PSNI on March 23 to say he was available and willing to help with their inquiries into Ms McConville’s murder.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said detectives had waited more than a month to take him up on the offer because of a “politically motivated” attempt to undermine the party ahead of local and European elections on both sides of the Irish border.

She claimed that reactionary figures within the Democratic Unionist Party as well as the minority hard-line Traditional Unionist Voice and “old guard” elements within the PSNI created pressure to choreograph the timing of the arrest.

“My own view is that those two things have coalesced for the timing of this to fall right in the middle of an election campaign,” Ms McDonald added.

Mr Adams has vehemently rejected allegations made by former republican colleagues that he had a role in ordering the death of mother-of-10 Mrs McConville – who was wrongly accused of passing information to the British army in Belfast.

The former West Belfast MP was detained last night after voluntarily presenting himself for interview at a police station in Antrim.

No-one has ever been charged with the murder of Mrs McConville. But after years without progress in the criminal investigation there have been a series of arrests in recent weeks.

A veteran republican – 77-year-old Ivor Bell – was charged in March with aiding and abetting the murder. Five other people have been detained and questioned.

The recent police activity followed a decision by a US court compelling a Boston university to hand over to the PSNI recorded interviews with republicans about Mrs McConville’s murder.

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 the court last year ordered that tapes that contained claims about the killing be given to detectives.

Mr Adams, 65, has always denied IRA membership or any role in Mrs McConville’s death and said in March he would be available to meet with detectives if they wished to speak with him.

He stepped down as MP and is a representative for Co Louth in the Irish Dail.

The veteran republican presented himself at Antrim police station by prior arrangement with officers.

He issued a statement minutes after the PSNI announced an arrest had been made.

“While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening,” he said last night, questioning why police chose to interview him in the run up to an election.

“As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville.

“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.

“Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.

“While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville.”

Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow, was dragged away from her home in the Divis flats, west Belfast, by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British army in the city.

She was murdered and secretly buried, becoming one of the so-called disappeared victims of the Troubles.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the claims that she was an informer.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home.

Clearly embarrassed by the killing, the IRA did not officially admit responsibility for the murder until 1999 when information was passed to police in the Irish Republic.

It was not until August 2003 that her remains were found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Sinn Fein Boss Gerry Adams Wanted This Murder Bust

Sinn Fein Boss Gerry Adams Wanted This Murder Bust
Ed Moloney
Daily Beast
World News

The killing of a widowed mother of 10 has been hanging over Gerry Adams for 40 years. His arrest is a calculated gamble to clear his name—and began with the Obama Justice Department.

It was, nearly everyone agrees, one of the most cold-blooded and pitiless killings in Northern Ireland’s 30-some years of bloodshed and conflict.

Now, 42 years later, it threatens to place Gerry Adams, the man most responsible for ending the IRA’s brutal violence, behind bars for murder and put the Obama Justice Department in the dock for endangering a prized monument to American diplomacy and peace-building.

On a cold December evening in 1972, 37-year-old Jean McConville, a recently widowed mother of 10 young children, was with her family in their cramped apartment in Divis Flats, a working-class housing project on the edge of Catholic West Belfast, when the door was forced open and a gang of masked young women burst in and dragged her away.

Her crying children were left to fend for themselves for weeks, begging and stealing food, until eventually the local social services were alerted to their plight and they were sent to foster homes. The children were never to be reunited again as a family.

Their mother’s fate was worse. The women who burst into her flat were from the female branch of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which had been fighting the British army and government for two years to reunite Ireland and achieve full independence from Britain. West Belfast, and the Divis Flats in particular, was one of the IRA’s toughest strongholds.

The IRA women had come for Jean McConville because they believed she had been acting as an informer, passing on low-grade intelligence to the local British army barracks about local members of the IRA. A small radio transmitter had been found in her apartment, and she had been arrested by the IRA and admitted her involvement.

But a local IRA commander had given her one last chance. Brendan Hughes, a veteran IRA activist, told this writer that he had given McConville “a yellow card,” a soccer term that means another offense would result in “a red card,” or an ejection. But in the IRA’s case, “a red card” always meant death.

McConville’s family and the vast coterie of supporters who champion her cause bristle at the accusation, pointing out that a mother of 10 would hardly have time to gather intelligence on the IRA. Instead they say she was killed for giving aid to a wounded British soldier and that local people disliked her because she had been a Protestant until marrying her Catholic husband, when she converted. An inquiry headed by the Police Ombudsman, a sort of referee figure, came down against the informer allegation.

Whatever the truth, the IRA claimed to have evidence that McConville had ignored the “yellow card” warning and had resumed her treacherous activities.

What happened next, according to Hughes, sealed her fate. In the fall of 1972, the IRA in Belfast was commanded by Gerry Adams, regarded inside the IRA as the brightest strategic mind in the organization. He was also, Hughes said, a man who was very media savvy.

If the British put Adams on trial, his hardline opponents’ accusations of naiveté or selling out will be justified and the peace process will be seriously undermined.

A meeting was held of the top IRA leaders in Belfast with only one item on the agenda: what to do with McConville. Those present agreed that the penalty for informing had to be death. The only point of dispute was what to do with her body. Normally the IRA advertised the execution of traitors; the dead bodies of informers would be left in the open, “thrown in the street,” as the phrase had it, as a warning to others tempted to go down the same road.

But admitting that the IRA had killed a widow and mother of 10 was a potential public relations disaster. The media would be appalled and the British delighted. Much better, some IRA leaders argued, to kill her and hide the body, bury it in a secret grave, South American-style, so no one would ever know what had really happened—except the IRA leaders themselves.

The decision came down to “disappear” McConville. Hughes, who also gave the same testimony to Boston College’s oral history archive, said Adams agreed with the order.

And so McConville, believing she was in the hands of a Catholic charity and safe from the IRA’s vengeance, was taken across the Irish border by members of a special IRA unit called “The Unknowns,” so called because the authorities were unaware of their existence.

The unit was, according to Hughes, answerable to Adams, the Belfast commander. And so, Hughes said, the order to disappear McConville came ultimately from Adams.

McConville was taken to Dundalk, a small town just across the Irish border, held for a few days and then taken to a lonely beach at Carlingford Lough, one of Ireland’s most picturesque spots,. At the edge of an already excavated grave a single bullet was fired into the back of her head and she fell lifeless into the hole. There she lay until 2003, when a member of the public walking the beach noticed a bone sticking out of the sand.

One of “The Unknowns” who had ferried McConville to Dundalk was Dolours Price, a strikingly attractive member of a renowned Belfast IRA family. Price had joined the IRA in 1971, inspired by an aunt who had been blinded and who lost both hands in an accidental IRA explosion in 1938. Dolours Price would later gain infamy as the leader of a bombing team that devastated London in 1973.

Arrested and imprisoned, she then embarked on one of the lengthiest hunger strikes in British prison history, during which she was force-fed so often she developed life-threatening anorexia and nearly died. Released from jail, she left the IRA, married the movie star Stephen Rea, and had two sons, settling down in an affluent part of Dublin.

But she never lost her Irish Republican beliefs. When Adams concluded secret negotiations with the British, U.S., and Irish governments that resulted in an IRA ceasefire and the acceptance by the IRA’s political wing, Sinn Fein, of the existence of Northern Ireland along with government posts for Adams’s colleagues, Price sensed betrayal.

She had ferried more than McConville to secret graves, and the burden of what she had done took its toll. Like Hughes, Price was interviewed for the Boston College archive, but she kept silent about McConville. When Hughes’s interviews were made public, however, she decided to break her silence and gave a number of newspaper interviews claiming that Adams had ordered McConville to be “disappeared.”

It is these two sets of interviews that form the core of the case against Gerry Adams, that the architect of the IRA’s peace strategy was an Irish Pinochet, responsible for the “disappearing” of innocent victims.

A British government effort to subpoena the interviews held in the Boston College archive has worsened Adams’s dilemma. The archive, begun in 2001, gave interviewees a promise that their memories would stay secret until they died, but a legal loophole created by an international treaty gave the British access to the trove. After nearly three years of legal battles, last fall several other interviews were handed over to the police in Northern Ireland. In March the police moved, arresting Ivor Bell, Adams’s closest confidant in 1972, in effect his No. 2, and charged him with aiding and abetting the McConville killing.

The arrest reignited a firestorm of speculation and controversy over Adams’s role. If Bell had been involved as the police alleged, then what role did the No. 1 play? As the firestorm raged, Adams issued a challenge to the police: “If you want to question me about McConville, then here I am. I will be happy to answer your questions.”

On Wednesday, Adams surrendered himself to the police for interrogation in what is undoubtedly the biggest gamble in his political life.

The McConville allegations have been like a monkey on his back for the best part of a decade. His party, Sinn Fein—Irish for “We Ourselves”—is well placed to enter government in Dublin at the next election, but his opponents have a potent weapon to use against him: his alleged role in the disappearance of McConville. He badly needs to throw the monkey off his back, and that explains his extraordinary move in giving himself up to the police.

It is a calculated gamble. Two of those who claim he gave the order to kill McConville, Hughes and Price, are dead. (Hughes died in 2008, Price in January 2014.) And anyway, their evidence is hearsay and can’t be used to charge, much less convict, anyone.

So if Adams can hold out for the days of interrogation that lie ahead, there is a good chance he can come out of police custody, declare himself an innocent man who answered police questions truthfully, and finally throw the monkey off his back.

There is much more at stake than just Adams’s freedom and reputation, however. He was the principal architect of the IRA peace strategy; without him the IRA would never have been maneuvered out of violence. If the British put him on trial, his hardline opponents’ accusations of naiveté or selling out will be justified and the peace process will be seriously undermined.

In all of this, the role of the Obama Justice Department has escaped the scrutiny that it deserves. The road to Adams’s arrest began in May 2011, when the DoJ served subpoenas on Boston College on behalf of the British government without conducting due diligence.

In an affidavit to the Boston District Court justifying the subpoena seeking Price’s interview with the college, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz cited a Belfast Sunday newspaper report that claimed to have heard Price’s tape admitting her part in McConville’s death.

But Price never mentioned the McConville killing in her interview for the archive, and a moment’s reflection would have revealed as nonsensical the idea that a Belfast newspaper, the equivalent of a supermarket tabloid in the United States, would be allowed access to such a secret, well-protected archive held by one of the country’s most prestigious colleges. The police in Northern Ireland pulled the wool over Ortiz’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s eyes, and they did not even notice.

The peace process in Northern Ireland is a monument to American diplomacy. Without the efforts of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, it is doubtful whether a power-sharing government would be in Belfast or whether IRA guns would not only have been silenced but destroyed. The peace process is testimony to the fact that with enough effort, jaw-jaw can prevail over war-war.

What a shame that a slipshod approach by the Obama administration to such a crucial issue has put it all at risk.