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.

Arrest Adams now for McConville murder says republican ex-prisoner

Arrest Adams now for McConville murder says ex-republican prisoner
Suzanne Breen
Sunday Life
20 April 2014

A former republican prisoner says the PSNI should immediately arrest Gerry Adams over Jean McConville’s murder.

The ex-internee from West Belfast is furious that in recent weeks police have arrested “a string of low level republicans” whom she believes played no part in the mother of ten’s brutal death.

Evelyn Gilroy from the Lower Falls was a member of the republican movement along with Gerry Adams in the early 1970s. She was active in Divis where Jean McConville was abducted.

Last month, veteran republican Ivor Bell was charged with aiding and abetting the murder. Detectives have this month questioned five women and a man about the killing.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Life, Evelyn Gilroy said: “I’m speaking out for the first time because I’m very angry that grassroots republicans are being arrested.

“Police have lifted people who were 15 and 16 at the time of the killing, yet Gerry Adams remains untouched. I’m disgusted that ordinary republicans are being put through the mill for his actions.

“It defies belief that he hasn’t been arrested. The police should stop chasing those who were never in a position in the republican movement to order Jean McConville’s execution and instead arrest the only person who was in that position – Gerry Adams.

“He has got away with so much over the years. He now seems to be getting away with this as well. It will be a disgrace if ordinary people end up carrying the can for what he did.”

The Sinn Féin president has told his solicitor to contact police to see if he is wanted for questioning over the murder. He said if the PSNI wish to talk to him, he will meet them.

Last month, Jean McConville’s daughter Helen told Sunday Life she wants to see the Louth TD in the dock for her mother’s murder

Mr Adams was OC (officer commanding) of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade when Jean McConville was murdered in December 1972. He denies all involvement in her death and secret burial.

At one meeting, he told her family he was in jail when she disappeared – which wasn’t true – and he offered to help them in their search for the truth.

Ms Gilroy said: “I don’t know how Gerry Adams had the nerve to look the McConvilles in the eye. If he wants to know the truth about Jean’s execution, all he has to do is stand in front of the mirror and talk to himself.”

In an interview with Boston College, former Belfast Brigade commander, Brendan Hughes, said Mr Adams had ordered the widowed mother’s execution.

Mr Adams said: “Brendan is telling lies. I’d no act or part to play in the abduction, killing, or burial of Jean McConville.” He denied similar accusations from Dolours Price.

Ms Gilroy said: “His denials are on a par with his claims that he was never in the IRA. He has become a walking joke. I’m sure he will now call me a liar just like Brendan and Dolours were called liars.

“But anyone active in the republican movement in the 1970s in Belfast knows who the real liar is. Brendan Hughes was an honest man. Even those who hated his politics acknowledge that. When Brendan spoke about Jean McConville, he was telling the truth.”

Jean McConville was driven from West Belfast to Co Louth where she was shot in the back of the head in Shelling Beach. Her remains lay undiscovered until 2003.

Ms Gilroy, 61, comes from a strong republican family from the Lower Falls. The authorities viewed her as a significant republican activist in the 1970s and she was arrested dozens of times.

She and her sister, Mary Kennedy, were the only two mothers among the 2,000 people interned by the British government. She was held for 18 months in Armagh jail.

She is a close friend of ex-IRA chief of staff Billy McKee. A few years ago, she was presented with a commemorative plaque by the IRA’s old ‘D Company’.

At the time of the McConville killing, Ms Gilroy lived in Whitehall Row in Divis Flats, across the way from Jean McConville.

She claims that “many myths” surround her murder. The veteran republican said it was “totally untrue” that the widowed mother was killed for comforting a dying British soldier. She insisted the incident as described never took place.

A soldier had been hurt, but not fatally, in Divis. It was Ms Gilroy’s sister, Mary Kennedy, who helped him and not Jean McConville, she said.

“My sister lived five doors from Jean McConville in Farset Walk in the flats. Weeks before Jean was killed, a soldier was hit on the head by a brick thrown by a local lad. My sister heard him crying. She was a very soft, warm woman and she brought him into the hallway and gave him a glass of water.

“Her act of compassion didn’t go down well with some. ‘Touts Out’ and ‘Soldier Lover’ was painted on her door. The incident was reported to the media. My sister gave an interview to Downtown Radio about her act of mercy and the intimidation that followed.”

Ms Gilroy, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child when Jean McConville was murdered, said she believed the mother-of-ten was killed because she was an informer, a claim the McConvilles and others deny.

When she was Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan dismissed the informer allegations saying her office had extensively examined intelligence available at the time and found no evidence Mrs McConville had ever passed information to the security forces.

But Ms Gilroy said: “It might not be popular to say she was an informer but I firmly believe she was. The IRA found a radio in her flat. That doesn’t in any way justify what happened to her. It was a terrible thing for that family.

“I can’t get my head around how the IRA would kill a mother with all those wee children. They could easily have ordered her out of the country and put her on a boat to England or Scotland with her kids. She should never have been executed.”

Last week two women – aged 57 and 60 – were arrested and taken to Antrim police station for questioning about Jean McConville’s murder. The PSNI said they were later released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Unionist Reaction
By Suzanne Breen
Sunday Life
20 April 2014

Unionist politicians are calling for Gerry Adams to be arrested over Jean McConville’s murder following claims from a former republican prisoner that he alone was in a position within the Provisionals to order the mother-of-10’s brutal killing.

Evelyn Gilroy, an ex-internee from west Belfast, expressed her anger that six “low-level republicans” had been arrested this month about the 1972 murder while police hadn’t even questioned the Sinn Fein president.

“Police have lifted people who were 15 and 16 at the time of the killing, yet Gerry Adams remains untouched,” she said.

“The police should stop chasing those who were never in a position in the republican movement to order Jean McConville’s execution and instead arrest the only person who was in that position – Gerry Adams.”

Ms Gilroy was a member of the republican movement along with Mr Adams in the 1970s. She was active in Divis where Jean McConville was abducted. Mr Adams has always strongly denied any involvement in the horrific abduction and murder of Mrs McConville.

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “With even a former colleague in the republican movement, Evelyn Gilroy, now calling for Gerry Adams to be arrested over Jean McConville’s murder, the police’s inaction is becoming unsustainable. Continuing to treat Adams as an untouchable, in the face of such exposure, brings policing into disrepute.”

Ulster Unionist minister, Danny Kennedy, said: “The increasingly compelling evidence against Gerry Adams cannot be ignored. It is beyond the time that he should be arrested and questioned. The PSNI must act now and it is in the public interest that they do so.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: “The comments about Gerry Adams from a republican active at the time of Jean McConville’s abduction and murder have credence.

“They are the latest in a series which can’t be easily dismissed by Sinn Fein.

“The police should question Gerry Adams as a matter of urgency. If charges are appropriate they should follow irrespective of the fact he is a TD.”

Last month, Mr Adams told his solicitor to contact police to see if he is wanted for questioning over the murder. He said he is willing to meet the PSNI.

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.