Jean family fury as book claims Adams ordered her murder
THE family of Jean McConville has said that a new book accusing Gerry Adams of ordering her murder and secret burial by the IRA in 1972 was "another nail in the coffin" of the politician's career.
The allegation comes posthumously from Adams's closest colleague in the early years of the Troubles, Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes, a former Belfast IRA commander.
Hughes's version of Jean McConville's killing is among a number of damning revelations about Adams contained in a new book, 'Voices From the Grave' by Ed Moloney, which reaches bookstores today.
The Sinn Fein leader has always denied any knowledge of a plan to kill Mrs McConville or of any involvement in the IRA. Last night a Sinn Fein spokesman denied he was involved in her disappearance.
Mrs McConville, a widowed mother of 10 living in poverty in Belfast, was one of a number of people "disappeared" by the IRA in the early 1970s; her body was eventually uncovered on a beach in Louth in 2003.
Seamus McKendry, husband of Jean's daughter Helen, said the claims were "another nail in the coffin of Gerry Adams".
"He surely cannot go on claiming he was never in the IRA now," he said.
Mr McKendry disputed claims made by Hughes in the book that the widow had been an informer. "Her struggle was to feed her children, not to feed the British with intelligence," he said, adding that because she was a Protestant and a stranger to the area, she had made an ideal scapegoat.
Hughes, who died in 2008, gave the interviews in 2001/2002 on condition they would not be published until after his death. They make clear that in spite of years of denials by Adams that he was ever a member, he had a lengthy career in the IRA, eventually becoming Chief of Staff. He accused Adams of setting up a special IRA squad called 'The Unknowns'. "They were always Gerry's squad. I had no control over this squad."
In the book, Hughes claimed Mrs McConville was being paid to inform on IRA movements in the area and had a radio transmitter in her flat, something that has always been denied by her children.
The claim was rubbished by her family yesterday, who said such a transmitter would have been impossible to conceal.
"There is only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed", Hughes said in interviews. "That man is now head of Sinn Fein (Gerry Adams). I did not give the order to execute that woman, he did."
Hughes also revealed that although the IRA later admitted they had "disappeared" nine people, the number was actually greater.
He described the gruesome details of how the IRA hanged one of their members in Long Kesh in 1973 for allegedly spying, making the death look like suicide. "The order was given by Gerry Adams," Hughes said.
The book gives the inside story of the Troubles from the point of view of two senior gunmen, one from each side: republican Brendan Hughes and loyalist David Ervine. Both are now dead but gave the lengthy interviews to researchers from Boston College over a period of several years.
The research was conducted under the guidance of the book's author Ed Moloney, a veteran reporter on Northern Ireland.
Part of the motivation of Brendan Hughes was his anger with Adams for always denying the part he (Adams) had played. "It's like Hitler denying that there was ever a holocaust," Hughes said.
SDLP MLA Alban Maginness pointed out that Gerry Adams had "some serious questions to answer".
"It is quite shocking when you think about it," he said, adding that it was time for him to "come clean about his involvement or non involvement".