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McConville daughter considers run against Adams for Dail seat

The family of Jean McConville, who was murdered by the IRA in 1972, is considering running against Gerry Adams in the Louth constituency where the mother of 10 was secretly buried.

Mr Adams denied claims in a book published last year that he gave the order for Mrs McConville to be murdered and secretly buried.

His former IRA associate, Brendan Hughes, in his posthumously published memoir, claimed Mr Adams had given the order for her execution.

Mr Adams said this was untrue and he had "no hand or part in the killing and disappearing of Jean McConville".

Her eldest daughter, Helen McKendry, and her husband, Seamus, started the campaign that led to the IRA finally agreeing to give locations for several of the people it murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles. Nine have so far been recovered.

Seamus McKendry confirmed yesterday that he and his wife would like to take a stand against Mr Adams in Co Louth, saying: "It is quite cynical to think he is running in the same constituency where they buried Jean.

"They probably think Louth is a safe enough seat. There are a lot of ex-Provos and OTRs [on-the-run ex-IRA members] from west Belfast who moved to Dundalk.

"Yes, we are interested in stopping the bearded wonder. Hopefully people won't be gullible enough to give him a vote."

Mr McKendry said he and his wife discussed mounting a campaign after Mr Adams announced his intention of running in Louth, replacing Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan.

The Sunday Independent understands that at least one backer has expressed interest in supporting the couple. Mr McKendry said they would need support not only with resources but also for reasons of personal security. "You would not like to be on your own and run into Sinn Fein supporters at night."

Mrs McKendry, who was left alone to look after her nine younger siblings, including a baby, has always rejected the IRA's claim that her mother was an informer.

Hughes claimed a small transmitter had been found in the widow's flat in Divis Flats but no evidence was ever produced.

Mrs McKendry said her mother was abducted and murdered because she had comforted a British soldier who was shot by the IRA outside her flat.

The children stayed together for six weeks after the disappearance of their mother, supported by relatives. After that they were taken into care and split up.

Mrs McConville's remains were found at Templetown Beach in 2003, 31 years after she disappeared.

Despite the claim by Hughes and others that Mrs McConville was an informer, local sources told the Sunday Independent they believed this story was put about to blacken the widow's name. Her husband, Arthur, was a Protestant and there was antagonism toward Mrs McConville.

At the time, the IRA was conducting a campaign of abducting and beating women who were accused of fraternising with British soldiers. Dozens were beaten or tarred and feathered in Belfast.

Mr McKendry said Sinn Fein hated the fact that his wife had kept up her campaign and said that he had been told that the raising of the issue had previously been damaging to them electorally.

"When they began digging in 1999 I know they believed it hurt them in the European elections. Mitchell McLaughlin [the Sinn Fein Derry representative] didn't get elected and I know they blamed us for that loss."

Last July, searchers recovered the body of Charlie Armstrong, 57, who was abducted from his home in south Armagh in 1981. The IRA never admitted killing him.

Among those still unaccounted for are: Kevin McKee, an IRA member from Belfast who disappeared in 1972; Brendan McGraw, who disappeared from west Belfast in 1978; Seamus Wright, also from west Belfast, who was murdered in 1972; Captain Robert Nairac, the British soldier abducted and killed in south Armagh in 1977; and Seamus Ruddy, a Newry member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party who was murdered in 1985.

Sunday Independent