Opinion Analysis

Thursday 19 April 2018

Should McConville murderers be tried as war criminals?

Despite diversionary tactics, the SF leader is trapped in a corner of his own making, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

A young Adams at an IRA funeral
A young Adams at an IRA funeral
Gerry Adams was unhelpful in responding to questions about Jean McConville's fate
Jean McConville and three of her children before she vanished in 1972

Eilis O'Hanlon

The news began breaking mid-morning on Wednesday. Sinn Fein was about to make a "big announcement". Rumours swept Irish social media circles like seagulls following a returning fishing boat. It seemed a safe bet that it must have something to do with the harrowing and intense film on the Disappaeared which had been broadcast on RTE two nights earlier, the film that led her daughter, Helen McKendry, to say, "If it was any other country it would be investigated like a war crime."

No party could surely ignore the allegations laid once more at their leader's door, that he not only knew more about the fate of Jean McConville than he had previously admitted, but that he may have been responsible for her fate.

In the event, the announcement did appear closely connected to the Disappeared, though not in the way viewers shocked by the broadcast might have expected, even hoped. Instead, Sinn Fein revealed that it was in possession of further secret recordings made within Anglo Irish Bank, which it had now passed to the authorities. And ... that was it. Off they traipsed. In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything, and the timing of this pantomime seemed remarkably convenient for a party whose leader was reeling as doubts continued to be raised about his judgment and integrity. The Disappeared was still fresh in people's minds. Now, suddenly, this.

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