McConville murder: Calls for Dáil debate

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea has backed calls for a special Dáil debate on claims that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams sanctioned the murder of Belfast mother Jean McConville.

Ms McConville was murdered by the IRA, who claimed she was a British spy. There is no evidence to back up this claim.

Ms McConville’s remains were recovered at Shelling Beach, Co Louth, in Aug 2003, more than 30 years after she was abducted and shot in the back of the head.

The Disappeared, a documentary aired on RTÉ last week, included allegations of Mr Adams’s direct involvement in the murder.

Reacting to the programme, former junior justice minster Willie O’Dea said he believed a Dáil debate on the allegations against Mr Adams should happen.

“I think it should really. So far... the Northern Ireland authorities seem to have made all the running on the matter. The fact of the matter was that Jean McConville’s body was found in the Republic,” he said.

“Some of the statements [in the documentary] were very, very definitive. They were made by people who had no reason to lie about the matter. Some of them have since died. It’s a very, very serious matter. I can imagine what would happen if allegations of that sort were made against the leader of any other political party in the Dáil — there would be screams from all sides for a debate.

“I think the matter should be debated. I would agree with the demand for the debate [in the Dáil].”

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said there was “an enormous credibility gap” surrounding the approach of Sinn Féin and Mr Adams to the issue of the Disappeared, but “others will ultimately judge what Gerry Adams has to say”.

Mr Shatter told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics: “I find the approach of Gerry Adams, of Sinn Féin, difficult to accept.”

He said: “There are various people associated with the provisional IRA and associated with Sinn Féin who are saying what Gerry Adams is saying isn’t correct. It’s for Gerry Adams to decide what he wants to say in public.”

He said Sinn Féin “stand on moral soap boxes in relation to a whole range of issues” in the Dáil, but that there are people associated with the party “who still have information and who still haven’t come forward”.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty denied that Mr Adams was a liability for the party.

He said that he found the documentary on the Disappeared “harrowing” and that “everybody that watched it would be moved by the pain of the victims”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also challenged Mr Adams over the murder and secret burial of Ms McConville, a widowed mother of 10.

At least 16 people were abducted, murdered, and secretly buried by Republican paramilitaries between 1972 and 2003. The bodies of 10 have been recovered.

Former IRA man Brendan Hughes, once a close friend of Mr Adams, has publicly said: “There’s only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. That man is now the head of Sinn Féin.”

Mr Adams has flatly denied the allegations.

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