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Saturday 17 February 2018

Adams denies any involvement in murder of Jean McConville

Ivor Bell is taken away by police after being refused bail. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Ivor Bell is taken away by police after being refused bail. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Gerry Adams
Ivor Bell, who is currently being questioned over the murder of Jean McConville.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has asked a lawyer to contact police to establish if detectives want to speak to him about the murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville.

The move comes after a veteran republican - 77-year-old Ivor Bell - was charged last week in connection with the notorious IRA killing in 1972.

As Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was remanded in custody charged with aiding and abetting the murder on Saturday, Belfast Magistrates Court heard police moved against him on the basis of an interview he allegedly gave to researchers from a college in Boston, Massachusetts - tapes a US court last year ordered to be handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Other republicans interviewed for the Boston College Troubles archive project have alleged Mr Adams had a role in ordering Mrs McConville's death.

The Sinn Fein leader, who has always denied membership of the IRA, has vehemently rejected the allegations in relation to the murder.

Mr Adams reiterated that denial today as he issued a statement in response to what he described as "media speculation" that the PSNI now wanted to speak to him.

"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," he said.

"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."

Researchers from Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths - but that undertaking was rendered ineffective when the US court ordered that tapes touching on Mrs McConville's death be given to PSNI detectives.

Mr Adams heavily criticised the oral history project, claiming some of those involved were opposed to Sinn Fein.

"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," he said.

"The Boston History project is not a genuine oral history project."

In an unsuccessful application for bail on Saturday, a solicitor for Bell, who is also charged with IRA membership, said his client had every incentive to go to court to prove his innocence.

Mrs McConville was dragged away from her children in her home in the Divis flats 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 police in the Irish Republic.

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.

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