Saturday 20 January 2018

IRA made 'idiotic mistake' over burial

JIM CUSACK

An "idiotic mistake" by the IRA over the secret grave of the widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville could lead to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams being questioned by police in the coming months.

Mrs McConville's family also want him questioned under the Geneva Convention, which rates the "forced disappearance" of victims in conflicts as both a war crime and a crime against humanity.

The IRA gave a location which was about half a mile away from the spot where Mrs McConville's body was found on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in August 2003 by a man walking his dog.

Four years earlier, the IRA had given the wrong location at Templetown Beach where two massive digs took place in the summers of 1999 and 2000.

Under the terms of the agreement between the IRA and the British and Irish governments over the recovery of the bodies, no forensic or other evidence can be used in any court proceedings against the killers of the 16 people they murdered and secretly buried. But, this amnesty only applies in cases where the bodies are recovered at the spot identified by the IRA.

In the case of Mrs McConville's murder, there can be an investigation and prosecution as the body was found by accident and not at the spot where the IRA said the body was.

Mr Seamus McKendry, husband of Mrs McConville's eldest daughter, Helen, yesterday said Mr Adams should be questioned.

He said Mr Adams has been named repeatedly as the IRA leader who gave the order for the murder and disappearance. Mr Adams denies he had any "hand, act or part" in the murder, and insists the accusations are "lies".

Mr McKendry said: "The amnesty over the disappeared only applies in cases where the bodies are found where the IRA said they were. It doesn't apply in Jean McConville's case

"When they gave the location at Templetown Hill I walked the area every morning. The road to Templetown Hill and the road to Shelling Hill are very similar and I actually went to Shelling because it struck me they could have got it wrong. They actually did. It was an idiotic mistake.

"After the first two digs on Templetown I went to the intermediaries and spoke to one and he went away and put it to the IRA. He came back and he said their exact message to me was 'do you think we are f***ing idiots'. They were idiots."

Commenting on last week's RTE-BBC documentary on the disappeared Mr McKendry said that while it raised the issue of there being no amnesty applicable in the case of Mrs McConville's murder it did not raise the issue of the disappearance of victims being a crime under the Geneva Convention. "It should have made it clear that under the Geneva Convention the disappearance of victims is a war crime and crime against humanity," he said.

Sunday Independent

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