Jean McConville's slaying was ultimate act in coercion campaign
The brutal murder of Jean McConville was the culmination of a co-ordinated IRA campaign to terrorise working-class Catholics into submission
Jean McConville was not the only woman abducted by the IRA prior to December 1972. Before her death, 14 young women in north Belfast alone were abducted, beaten and, in some cases, tied to lamp posts, their hair shorn and then covered in black paint and feathers. They were deemed to be "Brit lovers", accused of going out with British soldiers.
When the British Army arrived in Northern Ireland at the outset of the Troubles, they were generally welcomed by the Catholic population of west Belfast as they erected barriers – later to become permanent "peace walls" – to stop the invasions of the Falls area by loyalist mobs. Catholic women brought the soldiers tea and sandwiches at their temporary posts. And, young single Catholic women started attending discos organised by the soldiers in their barracks.
It became a priority for the IRA in Belfast, under the leadership of one of the organisation's most extreme figures, Seamus Twomey, to put a stop to this fraternisation or "collaboration".