News Letter Special on News Letter Special on BOSTON TAPES: Victims speak on saga

News Letter Special on BOSTON TAPES: Victims speak on saga
Ben Lowry
News Letter

IRA victims including members of Jean McConville’s family have spoken about the Boston College tapes saga.

The News Letter has been running a series of articles about the so-called Belfast Project, which interviewed republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

The project ran into crisis when it became known that some IRA interviewees had made allegations about the 1972 murder of the Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville.

Helen McKendry, fourth child of McConville, who was out at the shop when her mother was abducted from her flat, said of the tapes: “Anyone who had a family member murdered has a right to know what happened.

“The PSNI have had the tapes for a while. We thought they were going to make proper arrests and bring people to trial.

“Ivor Bell was arrested for aiding and abetting.”

Helen, 57, who is estranged from her siblings, said: “Dolours Price blew the project when she went to the press and Ed Moloney when he wrote the first book.” She added: “Police have the 11 tapes that mentioned my mother but we won’t get to hear what’s on the tapes unless there is a court case, which is what we want. That is why I am taking civil action against Gerry Adams.”

Her brother Michael McConville, now aged 53, was in the flat aged 11 when his mother was seized.

“I remember that night quite well,” he told the News Letter.

Mr McConville rejected the suggestion by Anthony McIntyre, who interviewed the republicans, that the PSNI had approached the family after the existence of the tapes became public knowledge in 2010.

“We wanted a meeting with police,” he said. “It happened about six months after [news of the tapes]. We wanted to know why they never lifted [Price]. They said waiting on other inquiries coming in.”

But Mr McConville declined to be drawn on the Boston College saga overall. “I have a lot of thoughts on the tapes but I don’t want to talk because of the court proceedings.”

Two victims of IRA atrocities gave us their perspective on the tapes.

Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta was killed in the 1987 Enniskillen bomb, said: “I understand some terrorists have some expectation their interview would not get released until they die. Even if I wasn’t a victim I would want truth to out and justice to prevail.

“If people have confessed to horrendous crimes in an interview and think that they did so in a safe environment that turns out not to be safe for them, that should be their problem, not mine.

“If there are tapes there, I would like them to be in the hands of people who could make use of them, the criminal justice system.

“If some of the interviewees are feeling stress, and having to look over their shoulder because of what they have admitted to, well at least that is some consequence for their actions.

“If the tapes were destroyed, it would be a lost opportunity for justice.”

Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law died in the 1993 Shankill blast, said: “Working with victims you have to feel for them. If there is anything that can help them in their search for truth and justice, that information should be made available.

“That said, if I was wearing my peace-building hat, I do see there is some merit in society for story telling projects to find out why things happened, what was going on in people’s heads when they did the things that they did.

“People will not come forward and tell those stories if they thing they are going to be liable for prosecution.

“So it seems that I am saying two different things and in a sense I am. We need to find a way to get to the truth of what happened.”