Tuesday 21 November 2017

I won't rest until we get justice: McConville daughter

Jean McConville
Jean McConville

Rebecca Black and Joanne Sweeney

A woman left orphaned by the IRA as a child has said she will not rest until Gerry Adams has been brought before the courts.

Helen McKendry has also pledged that if she does not see justice in her lifetime, her children will fight on for her.

Her mother, Jean McConville, was dragged from her children by IRA members and abducted from her Belfast home just weeks before Christmas in 1972.

Ms McKendry, then just 15, cared for her younger siblings for several weeks. They were then split up and placed in the care of the state, still wondering what had happened.

The widowed mother-of-10 became known as one of the Disappeared. Her remains were finally located at Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003.

Last year, Mr Adams was questioned over the murder of Ms McConville. He was released from police custody without being charged.

Earlier this month, Sinn Féin president Mr Adams described the tragedy during an interview with a US television station as "something that happens in war".

Ms McKendry said: "That man just does not shock me anymore. I don't think he stops to think what's coming out of his mouth. I don't know why people would vote for a man like that."

She added: "I'm after the one who gave the order and I believe that was Gerry Adams."

Mr Adams has always strongly denied any involvement in the abduction and murder of Ms McConville.

Ms McKendry has also revealed that she believes the IRA had been watching the family home and had deliberately waited until she had gone out before snatching her mother.

As the oldest of the children she believes she may have been able to resist them.

"If I had have been there at the time, I would have put up a fight," she said.

She also described how hard it was as a young teenager to be suddenly in charge of a family after the death of both her parents within a year.

"We were all still coming to terms with the loss of my father, Arthur, in January of that year from cancer," she said.

"I had to take over the job of my mother, which was very hard because I was only 15.

"We were on our own for about 14 weeks. Every day got harder for me because I couldn't get the children to go to school.

"There was no food for them. I had to rely on friends' homes, where I would go in and steal food from their parents for us."

Irish Independent

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