PSNI officers investigating the murder of Jean McConville have been given access to taped testimony by Brendan Hughes allegedly detailing the decision to murder her.
In the testimony, Mr Hughes, a former Belfast IRA commander, accuses Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, of sanctioning the secret burial of the mother-of-10 in 1972.
The handover was revealed in papers lodged by Boston College seeking to block further access to its unique oral archive, known as ‘the Belfast Project’.
In the archive, paramilitary veterans told their life stories on condition that details would not be released while they were alive. Brendan Hughes, known as ‘The Dark’, died in 2008.
Police hope to interview Mr Adams about the allegation, which he has already denied after they were published in Voices From The Grave, a book by the investigative journalist Ed Moloney.
Boston College wants to stop the PSNI, acting through the US Attorney’s office for diplomatic reasons, from accessing the taped testimony of Dolours Price, another former IRA prisoner who has talked of the McConville murder. The college has applied to quash this application next Tuesday, June 21, but the US Attorney may seek an extension.
The unique archive was created after an approach from Mr Moloney and Lord Bew, Professor of Politics at Queen’s and a former adviser to David Trimble. The republican interviews were conducted by Dr Anthony McIntyre, an IRA veteran, whose doctorate on Irish republican history was supervised by Dr Bew.
In affidavits, the college said that it believed that the peace process involved an end to police investigations into Troubles-|related crimes. However, the PSNI’s view is that if it is aware of any evidence it is duty-bound to pursue it.
The college fears that the lives of its researchers, and Ms Price, will be in danger if it releases any more papers. Ms Price has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for decades and has received periodic psychiatric treatment. An affidavit from Dr McIntyre states that she is currently suffering from “serious depression”.
She has previously said that she would not co-operate with a police investigation.
Jean McConville was killed by the Provisional IRA and secretly buried on a beach in the Republic in 1972. The IRA subsequently claimed that she had been passing information on republican activities to British security forces. An investigation by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland rejected these claims.