McConvilles to mount civil case in bid for justice

McConvilles to mount civil case in bid for justice
Adams could be forced to give evidence after benefactor backs murdered widow’s family
Sunday Independent
04 AUGUST 2013

THE family of murdered widow and mother-of-10 Jean McConville has received an offer of financial assistance to mount a civil legal action, which they hope could lead to Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams being forced to give evidence in court.

The family has not decided on what form of action to take. But they could follow the civil case taken by relatives of the 1998 Omagh bomb victims against five suspects, four of whom were found by the High Court in Belfast to have been involved in the atrocity that killed 29 people, including Avril Monaghan, 30, who was pregnant with twins.

Mrs McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry and her husband, Seamus, have confirmed they have an offer of assistance from a wealthy benefactor who wishes to keep his identity secret.

“He is very generous and concerned to see the truth about what happened to Jean and the family brought out,” Mr McKendry told the Sunday Independent.

The couple has already contacted the Omagh families who brought the civil action against dissident republican figures deemed in the action to have been responsible.

“We are currently seeking legal representation,” Mr McKendry said.

A similar case to the McConville murder would be likely to see the tapes of interviews with former Provisional IRA figures brought into play.

Currently, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has possession of one set of tapes of an interview with former IRA woman Dolours Price in which she named Gerry Adams as the local IRA commander who gave the order for Mrs McConville’s murder and secret burial in December 1972. Price, who suffered from depression, took his own life in January

Mr Adams, who denies any involvement in Mrs McConville’s murder, was also named by another former IRA man, Brendan Hughes, as being the commander of the Belfast unit that abducted the mother-of-10 from her home in the Divis Flats complex.

Hughes, who died in February 2008, also claimed in a taped interview to researchers from Boston College that Mr Adams gave the order for her secret burial.

The PSNI is currently seeking tapes from six other former IRA members referring to the murder of Mrs McConville as part of a historic case review. These are expected to be handed over in coming weeks.

If the PSNI and Northern Ireland’s Prosecution Service decides there are insufficient grounds to mount a criminal case, the Boston College files could become part of a civil action where the grounds of “probability” rather than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal law apply.

Gerry Adams has consistently denied that he was even a member of the IRA at any time and also that he had any part in Mrs McConville’s murder. A number of women were in the gang, including the then head of the women’s IRA on the Falls Road, Madge McConville, no relation of the victim.

Madge McConville died in July 2009 and was described as a “republican icon” in an obituary in the Sinn Fein weekly paper, An Phoblacht. It was well known in the lower Falls area that she was involved in the abduction of Mrs McConville after she was seen to give assistance to a British soldier who was injured near her front door.

At the time, the IRA had set up units in Belfast to attack anyone who was seen as sympathetic to the police or British Army. Dozens of women were abducted and beaten up and several young women had their heads shaved, were tied to lampposts and had black paint and feathers poured over them.

The claims of Mr Adams’ involvement have been raised on a number occasions in the Dail.

Last month, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said there would be a “clarion call” for clarification if such an accusation was made against any other TD.

Mr Adams replied that he had “consistently rejected claims that I had any knowledge of, or any part in, the abduction or killing of Jean McConville”.

Weeks before her abduction, Mrs McConville, 38, was brutally beaten up by a gang of local IRA men and women because of her perceived sympathies to British soldiers. A decision was then made to murder her as an example to others to avoid contact with soldiers or police. Local sources said the decision to murder her was taken because she was a Protestant who had married a Catholic.

She was driven to north Co Louth and taken to Templetown beach where she was brought to a shallow grave, shot and buried. Her children, including a baby, were left abandoned and went without food as local people were too afraid to help them. They were eventually taken into care by social services and placed in separate orphanages and foster homes.

Mrs McConville’s body was discovered by accident on Templetown beach by a family in August 2003 when part of the sand dune she was buried in eroded.

The inquest into her death found she had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of her head, probably fired downwards indicating she was made to kneel at her graveside before being murdered.

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