Adams criticises Boston Oral History Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran republican in custody over murder charges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information is passed on to Gardai.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How story of Boston tapes has unfolded

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

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

Q Who was interviewed as part of the taped project?

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

Q How many people were interviewed?

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

Q How were interviewees’ identities protected?

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

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

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

Q And what will happen now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAPE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUV calls for more Boston tapes project arrests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT: Arrest of Ivor Bell and the Boston College Tapes

Radio Free Eireann interview with Ciaran Mulholland on the political imprisonment of Ivor Bell.

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview via telephone from Belfast Ciarán Mulholland (CM) an intended independent Republican candidate from the Black Mountain ward to run for Belfast City Council.

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
Saturday 22 March 2014

(begins 1:38 PM EST)

SB: We’re going over to Belfast to talk to Ciarán Mulholland about the arrest of Ivor Bell, former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army, now seventy-seven years old, suffered two heart attacks and Ciarán organised a protest this morning for Ivor. Ciarán, thanks very much for being with us.

JM: No – we’re going to go to a song and then make the phone call. And when we come out of the song we’ll head over to Belfast and we’ll talk.

… Because of the Boston tapes – remember – Boston College gave up these tapes – based on these tapes Ivor Bell is now in prison.

So there have been huge consequences of the tapes that were handed over. They were supposed to be kept in secret until the people who did the interviews that Anthony McIntyre did, until they died. But even with some of the people that did die, say Brendan Hughes, the tapes are being used to arrest people in Belfast.

(Song, What Ireland Means to Me by The Irish Brigade is played.)

SB: Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann at WBAI 99.5FM in New York. Now we’re going to go over to Belfast to talk to Ciarán Mulholland about the arrest of Ivor Bell. Ciarán, thanks very much for being with us.

CM: Hi. How’s it going?

SB: Good. Tell us who Ivor Bell is and the significance of his arrest after all these years.

CM: Essentially Ivor Bell is a well-respected Republican from West Belfast. Ivor would have been there at the beginning of the Republican Movement in terms of the Provisional Republican Movement and was a prominent leader of the Provisional Republican Movement until the mid-80’s.

That’s really I think all I could say at the moment but there’s alot of literature out there in respect to who Ivor is. He’s a very senior Republican and he’s respected a lot within the greater Republican family and beyond.

SB: Ed Moloney in his (book) Secret History of the IRA identifies him as a former Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army.

But today, this morning in Belfast, this seventy-seven year old man who suffered two heart attacks was charged with aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville and membership in the Irish Republican Army.

Jean McConville of course was a woman, a Protestant woman, living in West Belfast who was killed by the IRA and her body “disappeared” because they said she was an informer. But tell us very briefly about these charges.

CM: Essentially I think these charges came out of the blue when Ivor was arrested.

And the basis for that arrest was founded on the Boston College tape project which was a catalogue or an archive for want of a better term which was commissioned by the university, Boston University (Ed. Note: Boston College) with the view of collecting recordings from combatants who would have been involved in the conflict, in the war in the North of Ireland.

What occurred was individuals who would have been members of the Irish Republican Army, or alternatively Loyalists for that matter, would have given their accounts of the actual conflict. Now as everyone is aware the recordings in respect to Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price have reached some controversy. And we have and came across the book, Voices From the Grave, which gives an account of what was said.

I think the disclosure of those interviews provided to Boston College was to be released upon the individual’s death and I understand that was the arrangement which was sanctioned by the college – that they weren’t to be released until the individual died or unless the individual gave their consent.

Ivor was arrested last week, as you already said, a seventy-seven year old man, an ill man, was arrested at his home in West Belfast in respect to the murder of Jean McConville on the foot of evidence obtained in the Boston College tapes collection.

And today he has been charged with membership of the Irish Republican Army in 1972. Which is widely known – that Ivor was part of the delegation that was in negotiations with the British government in 1972 on Downing Street. So that’s widely known, it’s widely reported and it’s widely accepted. He was there on Downing Street with other members of the Irish Republican Army, including that of Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

So there’s no disputing this fact but however Ivor was the sole person to be arrested on the foot of that and also aiding and abetting murder. And as far as I’m aware at the moment no doubt the PSNI have him under the protectorate of that aiding and abetting. But from what I understand that is because of Ivor’s rank. It’s what you said – the Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army – and that he must have had some involvement or knowledge in respect to the order.

JM: Yeah, Ciarán, we’ve been discussing for the past hour about the political policing that goes on in The Six Counties: Stephen Murney, arrested for taking pictures, Marian Price, Martin Corey …. just the long list of political policing.

What I want to do is play a little clip from (the documentary) Voices From the Grave and this is Brendan Hughes’ voice (saying) who he thinks was involved.

(Audio clip from the 2011 Irish Film and Television Award winner for Best Documentary, Voices From the Grave, is played.)

Now Ciarán, in that little clip he does mention someone specifically – Gerry Adams – who seems to be allowed to roam the world, go to the White House and he’s not being picked up or questioned or charged with anything based on the same tapes that Ivor Bell is now being charged.

CM: Well I think it’s widely known when one recalls the murder of Jean McConville, those horrific events which unfolded, and one can only imagine what the McConville family have gone through, but one also recalls the allegations that Gerry Adams was involved and directed the abduction of Jean McConville.

So it would beg the questions: Why is Ivor Bell arrested?

If Ivor Bell is arrested why is Gerry Adams not arrested? If Ivor Bell is arrested on the foot of the Boston tapes – and everybody knows that there’s been references in the Boston tapes to Gerry Adams in respect to this murder – why has Gerry Adams not been arrested?

So these are the questions that have to be asked.

Ivor Bell’s departure from the Provisional Movement – why was that? Because Ivor raised serious concerns in respect to the leadership of Gerry Adams and the dictatorial role which Gerry Adams was cultivating for himself.

There was no room for maneouver or discussion – it was Gerry’s way or the highway.

So I think we have to keep that in mind when we’re considering it. So when we look at the political landscape – why has Ivor been taken off the streets yet Gerry Adams as you say can go to the White House, he can drive up and down from Baile Átha Cliath and Dundalk to Belfast – he can do what he wishes – without any arrest, without any enquiries made by the PSNI? So there’s serious questions and serious questions that have to be asked.

One of my concerns is that Ivor was involved in my election campaign. I intend to run as an independent candidate from the Black Mountain ward on an independent Republican ticket and now Ivor is behind bars. So it’s of serious concern to everyone. You made reference there to the other individuals who have fallen foul of the PSNI and the political status quo in The Six Counties here in Ireland at the minute.

There is no room for debate. There is no room for raising concerns. If you raise concerns you’ll find yourself behind bars in Maghaberry. And that is the situation that unfortunately we find ourselves in here at the minute.

If you don’t agree with the status quo you run the likelihood of possibly being incarcerated – interned by remand.

SB: Alright Ciarán, coming back to Gerry Adams: if you want to charge anybody with aiding and abetting for the murder of Jean McConville, Dolours Price said very specifically: I drove Jean McConville down from Belfast to the South of Ireland where she was killed and I did it on the orders of Gerry Adams. Now that’s pretty specific.

CM: Yes. That is specific and that isn’t just in the account which Price gave to the Boston College. That was also an account which she gave other journalists and has been widely reported and well before the PSNI had the Boston tapes in their possession.

So again it raises concerns as to why – if the PSNI were seriously interested in investigating the murder of Jean McConville and they were genuine about bringing those at fault before the courts – why didn’t they make reasonable endeavours then to investigate the matter from the outset when someone who openly stated: Well, 1) I was involved and, 2) I was acting on the instructions of Gerry Adams.

So those again are all serious questions that are in the public domain everybody knows it but again, there’s a serious reluctance there on behalf of the state and the PSNI to bring other individuals before the courts in respect to this.

My main concern is that if you can Ivor Bell, a seventy-seven year old – coming seventy-eight – ill health, as you said has suffered two heart attacks, has a pacemaker and also given the horrific conditions of Maghaberry (Prison) that it’s a great violation of his human rights.

Yet one would suggest there is more evidence on the face of it than what we know and what’s in the public domain pointing at other individuals that haven’t even been as much as questioned in respect to it.

So again I think alot of people can make assumptions but there is questions that have to be answered and questions that have to be answered by the British government in respect to this.

And it wasn’t so long ago that the whole issue of on-the-runs was brought to the fore and this was something that was brought before the media in respect to the arrest of Gerry McGeough.

Again, Gerry McGeough – leaving an election count and was arrested – no doubt demonstrating political policing – 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.

So if those questions were raised in the Gerry McGeough case where it was openly stated that, no, there is no agreement in respect to on-the-runs and then subsequently you have the Downey case. Mr. Downey is still very much with the Sinn Féin movement but it seems to be that some people’s rights are more important than other people’s rights. And there’s a lack of consistency when it comes to the law depending on what your political aspirations are.

JM: And Ciarán finally we started off talking about the arrest of Ivor Bell and then we gave the announcement that this morning he was in court and he was denied bail. What’s the next step in the process?

CM: Well, the next step in the process would be to bring this matter before the High Court and to make a High Court bail application and hopefully to get Ivor back home where he belongs.

As you’re aware he’s an old man, he’s ill, he’s of an elderly age and he’s certainly not set to be in a British prison in Maghaberry. So in this coming week his legal team hope to have an application before the High Court and make a bail application to ensure that he is released.

SB: But Ciarán, if he doesn’t get released on bail how long would it be before he actually comes to trial?

CM: This again comes back to the whole campaign that you may hear that are ongoing at the minute in the North of Ireland – internment by remand.

If Ivor’s not granted bail – which one would imagine he should be granted bail – he should have been granted bail today and he wasn’t – so who knows given the legal system here and the double-standards and hypocrisy of it.

But if isn’t granted bail we really don’t know. Ivor could run the risk of possibly being held on these charges for maybe two, three years if not longer before he’d see a shred of evidence and before the matter could be brought adequately for a hearing before a court.

SB: Thank you very much for coming on and we look forward to hearing more about this case. We’re not going to let it go. So again, thank you for coming on Radio Free Éireann.

CM: Thank you very much. Go raibh maith agat.

(ends 1:54PM EST)

Case against McConville accused based on US interviews

Case against McConville accused based on US interviews
Ivor Bell (77) refused bail on charges relating to 1972 murder of Jean McConville
Irish Times
Sat, Mar 22, 2014

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

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

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

But that undertaking was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to PSNI detectives.

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

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

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

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

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

“The defence submits that the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Grey-haired moustachioed Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast, sat impassively in the dock wearing a grey jumper as his lawyer made the claims.

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

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

He claimed the transcript actually indicated Bell had “played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville”.

The officer said he opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction. He revealed that he had previously used an alias to travel to Spain and predicted he could use contacts within the IRA to travel beyond Northern Ireland.

But Mr Corrigan said that was out of the question, noting that his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions, that his family was based in Belfast and that he had “every incentive” to stay in Northern Ireland 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?” he said.

Judge Henderson said the case was a very “significant and sensitive” one and praised those in court for acting with dignity through the hearing.

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

“I am persuaded by the prosecution in this case and on that basis I am refusing bail,” she said.

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

He waved to supporters in the public gallery as he was led out of the dock.

Mrs McConville was dragged away from her children by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in Belfast.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the allegations.

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

The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to gardaí.

She became one of the so-called Disappeared, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

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

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

“She is in our hearts and our thoughts always. Whatever the future holds nothing will ever change that”.

Boston College tapes led to charge over McConville’s disappearance

Boston College tapes led to charge over McConville’s disappearance
John Mooney
Sunday Times
23 March 2014

AN ALLEGED member of the IRA has been charged in connection with the death of Jean McConville after police obtained a taped recording of an interview he gave to researchers for an oralhistory project organised by Boston College.

Ivor Bell, 77, was charged with aiding and abetting the murder of McConville, a 37-year-old mother of 10 kidnapped and killed by the IRA in December 1972.

A solicitor who represented Bell at Belfast Magistrates’ Court yesterday said “the evidence was not credible”. Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan told Judge Amanda Henderson the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as Z, was his client. The solicitor insisted the person interviewed had denied any involvement.

“During those interviews Z explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” Corrigan said. He also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, pointing out that they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

“The defence submits the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

A PSNI detective inspector rejected Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview. He said the transcript indicated Bell had “played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville”.

The officer opposed bail on the grounds the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction. He revealed Bell had previously used an alias to travel to Spain and predicted he could use contacts within the IRA to travel beyond Northern Ireland.

Corrigan said this was out of the question, since his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions, his family was based in Belfast, and he had “every incentive” to stay in Northern Ireland to prove his innocence.

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

Bell was remanded in custody to appear again on April 11. He waved to supporters in the public gallery as he was led out of the dock.

The grandfather, who has suffered two heart attacks and has neck and bowel problems, was arrested at his home in Andersonstown last Tuesday.

The PSNI obtained tape recordings of interviews given by republicans following a protracted legal battle in the American courts.

The interviewees had been given assurances by the researchers that the tapes would only be released after they died, but a US court directed them to disclose the recordings.

A number of former IRA members who co-operated with the Boston College project sought legal advice following Bell’s arrest.

Bell was allegedly a senior figure in the IRA’s Belfast Brigade. He accompanied Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to London to attend secret talks with the British government in 1972 in an effort to reach a political agreement to end the violence engulfing Northern Ireland.

Yesterday Michael McConville, Jean’s son, said his family hoped that all those involved in the abduction and death of his mother would be brought to justice.

Adams said he could not comment on the decision to press charges against Bell for legal reasons, but said McConville’s killing and the disappearing of her remains were wrong and a “grievous injustice” to her family.

Reeling in the truth

Reeling in the truth
John Mooney
Sunday Times
23 March 2014

Over 40 years since Jean McConville disappeared, a man has been charged. Will justice finally be done

The look of terror on his mother’s face has remained etched on his memory for over 40 years. Michael McConville, then aged 11, vividly remembers the night the IRA took his mother. The knock on the door of their home in the Divis flats in west Belfast came at about 6.30pm on December 7, 1972.

“They just barged in when my sister opened the door. Some of them wore masks, others didn’t. They were shouting and screaming,” he said. “I held on to my mother. I think I attached myself to her leg. I was crying, refusing to let go. My mother was in a terrible state. The IRA had taken her the night before and beaten her up. She was terrified. She was crying. I think she probably knew what was going to happen.”

The intruders were local members of the IRA, both men and women. “They tried to calm us down because we were all screaming. My brother Arthur, who was a teenager, said he wanted to go with her. They said OK, and the two of them left, but when Arthur walked down the stairwell of the flats, they put a gun to his head and told him to go home. That was the last we ever saw of her,” McConville recalled.

“I think about it every day. It haunts me. I think she knew what they were going to do. I can still see the terror in her eyes. That look has never left me.”

Jean McConville was 37 and the mother of 10 children. She had been widowed the previous January when her husband Arthur died from cancer. In the months before she was abducted, she had had a series of nervous breakdowns, attempted to take her own life and suffered depression as she tried to cope with her loss and raise 10 children alone.

She is believed to have been interrogated for up to six days until an IRA gunman murdered her with a single shot to the back of the head. Her body was then taken to Shilling Hill beach on the Carlingford peninsula in Co Louth, where she was buried.

The IRA didn’t claim responsibility for the killing. Instead she became one of the Disappeared — paramilitary victims whose bodies were buried in remote bogs south of the border. The McConville family’s ordeal was just beginning.

The IRA returned a week later to take Michael, who had recognised at least three members of the gang: a woman and two men from the local area. The boy was hooded, strapped to a chair and beaten with hurleys in a disused house.

“They held me for three hours. They said that if I said anything about the IRA, they would kill me. They placed a hood over my head, but I could see them through it. They hit me. They fired a cap gun to frighten me and put a knife in my mouth,” he said. “These people were supposed to be protecting our community and this is what they were doing to an 11-year-old boy. I still see them around today. I still won’t make a statement to the police in case they get to my family. The IRA haven’t gone away; people just think they have.”

Having silenced the McConville children, the IRA denigrated their mother’s memory by telling journalists she had abandoned them to pursue a relationship with a loyalist paramilitary and was living in Britain. “We knew this was a lie. We all knew our mother was dead. She would never have left us,” said Michael.

The McConville siblings looked after themselves for a week or two until the social services heard of their plight and got involved, placing the children in care homes. Their mother’s remains were not found until August 2003.

Now, almost 42 years later, the circumstances surrounding the abduction and murder have again come back to haunt the IRA and Sinn Fein. The PSNI yesterday charged Ivor Bell, a 77-year-old republican and former associate of Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, in connection with the killing. More charges are expected to follow.

So could further revelations about the events around McConville’s murder implicate Adams, said to have been the leader of the Belfast IRA unit responsible for the “disappearance”?

THE death of Jean McConville was a singular event in the history of the Troubles, according to Anne Morgan, whose 33-year old brother Seamus Ruddy is among the Disappeared.

“We recognise that what happened to her was like no other. The IRA ruined that family. Those children still have the scars. I personally think it’s much sadder than my own case,” said Morgan, whose brother was murdered in France in May 1985 after he left the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army. Ruddy’s body has never been located.

“She wasn’t just a mother; she was a widow, a vulnerable woman. She was rearing 10 children in Divis flats on her own. She was born a Protestant but converted to Catholicism to marry someone she loved. There are all those elements which make her story a poignant one,” said Morgan.

The republican movement denied knowing anything of the missing woman until 1999, when it finally admitted killing her and operating a policy of disappearing people.

The IRA identified the location of her body after it began co-operating with a special body set up by the Irish and British governments, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains. Those who provided information about the missing bodies were granted immunity under the Good Friday agreement.

The IRA initially identified the burial location as Templetown beach in Co Louth. It was extensively excavated, but no trace of her remains were found.

Michael Finnegan, a retired detective chief superintendent who oversaw the search, believes the IRA did its best but simply got the location wrong. “The commission was in close contact with the IRA,” he said. “We spoke to a lot of the locals but they couldn’t understand why anyone would bury a body there, because it was overlooked by a house.

“The Provos insisted it was there, but nothing was found. They came back with more information to say there was a stream running down by the burial site. Lo and behold, when the body was eventually found at Shilling Beach, which is nearby, it was close to a stream. The information obviously came from someone who was there when she was buried, but got the location wrong.”

If the victim had been found at the spot identified by the IRA, the gardai and the PSNI could not have pursued the current prosecution due to the immunity deal, according to Finnegan.

The IRA has never offered any explanation as to why it murdered Jean McConville, but possible motives began to emerge in 2010 alongside details of taped interviews with IRA members recorded as part of an oral history project organised by Boston College in America.

The interviews, which involved 26 former IRA members, were carried out between 2001 and 2006 by Anthony McIntyre, himself a former IRA member, and Ed Moloney, a journalist and author. Among those who gave interviews was Dolours Price, a former IRA bomber, and Brendan Hughes, an erstwhile IRA hunger striker and one-time confidant of Adams.

The two researchers undertook to keep the recordings secret until the participants had passed away. When Hughes died in 2008, Moloney published a transcript of the dead republican’s interview in a book, Voices from the Grave. It implicated Adams in the disappearance of McConville.

Hughes said the IRA killed McConville because she had worked as an informer, although a later investigation by Nuala O’Loan, the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, found no evidence of this and dismissed the claim.

Adams denied involvement, but then Price claimed she too had been associated with the McConville “disappearance” and insisted that the Sinn Fein leader had ordered the woman’s murder. The statement prompted the PSNI to initiate legal proceedings to obtain the Boston College tapes, which ultimately proved successful.

Richard O’Rawe, a former IRA hunger striker who shared a cell block in the Maze prison with Hughes, believes that the latter was “haunted” by McConville’s death.

“He totally regretted the killing. His view was that if she was not going to be shot dead and left on the street like other informers, then don’t shoot her at all,” O’Rawe said. “I spoke to him after he got out of jail and he was still adamant she was helping the British. I don’t know, but even if she was, I think he would have preferred to let her go.”

O’Rawe said he knew nothing of the IRA policy of disappearing people. “I never heard Jean McConville’s name until the mid-1980s. The ordinary IRA volunteer wasn’t told about this activity; it was obviously done on a need-to-know basis, but it was awful. Kidnapping someone and secretly burying them in a bog is horrendous.”

O’Rawe believes McConville was “disappeared” because the IRA could not bring itself to admit publicly to killing her.

“It would have been a major embarrassment for the IRA leadership. The obvious option would have been to expel her. In my view, that would have been the right thing to do if they were convinced she was an informer. But again, what could she have known about the IRA?

“Her intelligence value to the security forces would have been minimal. She wasn’t even a member of the IRA. The most she could have done was report someone for carrying a rifle. Everyone saw people with guns in those days. It was no big deal.”

THE McConville family do not know whether or not Adams was involved in the death of their mother. They simply say they would like all of those responsible to face justice.

Michael McConville said he has no doubt as to why his mother was abducted and murdered. “I met Gerry Adams after my mother’s body was found and he apologised for what happened, but I think he lives in denial. He doesn’t even admit to being in the IRA,” he said.

“I know why my mother was killed. She wasn’t trusted in the community because she had helped a British soldier whom she found injured outside our flat one night. So they killed her, but then couldn’t admit to what they had done, because it was a new low for the IRA. Labelling my mother an informer was something the IRA had to do to justify what happened. People like my mother didn’t mean anything to the IRA.

“My mother’s murder hasn’t gone away because it was one of the worst crimes imaginable. I’m not saying it was the worst crime ever committed in the Troubles by the IRA, but it was certainly one of them.”

Chronicle Review: Who Killed Jean McConville?

Who Killed Jean McConville?
By Beth McMurtrie
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Chronicle Review – Chronicle of Higher Education

Among the many atrocities committed during the 30-year Northern Irish conflict known as the Troubles, the story of the McConville family is uniquely tragic.

In December 1972, gunmen dragged a widowed mother of 10 from her apartment in front of her children. She was never seen again. Shunned by neighbors, who believed Jean McConville had been an informer for the British Army, the children survived on their own for weeks, eating stolen biscuits and moldy bread. Then they were separated and sent away. Their mother’s body was discovered decades later, on a desolate beach in Ireland. She had been shot in the back of the head, the fate of those tagged as informers by the Irish Republican Army.

In 2011 a police investigation into the murder led the authorities to Boston College. They demanded confidential tape recordings that the college’s Belfast Project had collected from people with knowledge of her death.

But will those tapes, now in the hands of the police, lead to arrests? Not many close to the case think so, including members of the McConville family.

Michael McConville, who was 11 when his mother was taken away, has little faith in the investigators, who he notes had decades to pursue his mother’s killers. “They failed the McConville family in every way,” he says.

In 2006 the police were the subject of a scathing ombudsman’s report, which found a systematic failure to investigate the abduction in the 1970s and 1980s. The IRA admitted, in 1999, to her murder. The report also found no evidence that she was an informer. “She was an innocent woman,” the report concluded, “who was abducted and murdered.” (The family plans to file a civil suit against the police.)

The police renewed their investigation in 2004, says Mr. McConville. A detective told him they’d sort it out in a couple of months. After two years of silence, he got a call telling him only that another detective was taking over the case, which had been handed off to the Historical Enquiries Team, newly created to pursue unsolved murders during the Troubles.

The police contacted the McConvilles again after learning of the oral-history project at Boston College and said they were going after the tapes. The family has heard little since then. (The Police Services of Northern Ireland declined an interview request from The Chronicle.)

Mr. McConville finds the focus on the tapes strange. The police never tried to question Dolours Price, an IRA member who admitted to participating in the abduction, yet they went after her interviews. Further, he says, his mother’s abduction isn’t as much of a mystery as people outside of Belfast might think. It’s a small community; people talk. He even saw the faces of some of those involved that night. But naming names results in threats and retaliation, so people keep quiet.

“It leads nowhere,” he says of the police process.

A compact man with pale blue eyes, Mr. McConville has the deeply serious demeanor of someone who has learned to hope for little and trust even less. He has managed to build a life for himself, including a family of his own, but some of his siblings have found it hard to do so.

After the McConville children were taken into custody by a social-welfare agency, the younger ones were dispersed to different state-run homes and often subjected to harsh treatment. Released at the age of 16, Michael McConville and his siblings struggled to find their place in society.

“No one had any sympathy whatsoever,” he recalls. The McConville name made them the target of slurs and got them kicked off job sites. “We were just treated like scum.”

In Voices From the Grave, a book that came out of the Belfast Project, Brendan Hughes, a former IRA commander, said a transmitter had been found in the McConville apartment, proving that Jean McConville was an informer for the British Army. That is not true, her son says. He met with IRA members after the book was published, he says, and they said they did not know where those stories were coming from.

Michael McConville, who was 11 when his mother disappeared: “I’ve lived here all my life, and I don’t know who’s telling the truth.”

But in this secretive place, where information is guarded, sectarian mistrust thrives, and special disdain is reserved for those in authority, it may be hard to ever find out who killed Jean McConville.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and I don’t know who’s telling the truth,” says her son.

The Boston College case brought attention to Jean McConville’s story. A recent BBC documentary, The Disappeared, enlarged the spotlight to include more than a dozen other people similarly abducted and killed. Mr. McConville says he has found support from a grass-roots organization, called WAVE, that helps people affected by the Troubles.

In an interview in one of the hotels that have sprung up in Belfast’s revitalized business district, Mr. McConville makes clear that he has little regard for the Boston College project that led to the subpoena. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he says of those interviewed, whose tapes can be released only after their death. “You can’t question them because they’re dead.”

Now there’s talk in the highest political circles of abandoning the pursuit of old crimes and granting amnesty in cases like his mother’s, so that Northern Ireland can move beyond its past.

As for the McConvilles, he says they will continue to speak out. Not to seek arrests, but to eliminate the stigma that has dogged them for decades. “I’ll keep going,” he says, “until my mother’s name is cleared.”

McConville family to sue Baggott and MOD

McConville family to sue Baggott and MOD
UTV News
Published Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The family of Belfast woman Jean McConville – who was abducted, murdered and ‘disappeared’ by the Provisional IRA – plans to take civil action against the Chief Constable of the PSNI and the Ministry of Defence over alleged failings in the investigation into her death.

The body of Mrs McConville, a mother-of-10 who vanished in December 1972, was not recovered for more than 30 years.

Her remains were finally found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003, but no one has ever been convicted over her death.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Mrs McConville’s body being found, lawyers for the family confirmed that they had been instructed to pursue civil action.

“The McConville family firmly believe that the RUC and subsequently the PSNI have utterly failed to assist the family’s quest for the truth,” Ciarán Mulholland, from J Mulholland & Co Solicitors, said.

“It is abundantly clear that police negligently failed to hold a prompt and efficient investigation into this matter.”

The McConville family continue to mourn and grieve at the loss of their mother because they remain in the dark – their questions remain unanswered. — Ciarán Mulholland, family solicitor

According to the family’s legal team, Mrs McConville was abducted by the PIRA on 30 November 1972 from a bingo hall in the lower Falls area of west Belfast.

They say she was interrogated on suspicion of being an informant before being found the next day, “roaming the streets in a state”, by a British Army patrol who took her to Queen Street RUC barracks.

The lawyers further detail how Mrs McConville was then abducted from her home by the PIRA.

They claim numerous reports were made to the RUC, but “police still failed to act”.

Mrs McConville is believed to have been tortured and murdered by her captors sometime in December 1972.

Mr Mulholland added: “The family now feel that, given the lengthy passage of time and the obstruction they continue to meet seeking the truth into the disappearance and murder of their mother, they have no alternative other than to hold the police and Ministry of Defence to account.

“Our clients’ feel that legal action is now essential in their journey for truth, and accordingly, representations have been sent to both the Chief Constable and the Ministry of Defence.”

An MOD spokesman said: “The MOD has and will continue to cooperate fully with all judicial processes.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further due to the ongoing civilian police investigation.”