McConville family to ask Adams' help

Gerry Adams is to be challenged in a new move to force the IRA to clear the name of Jean McConville, it emerged tonight.

Gerry Adams is to be challenged in a new move to force the IRA to clear the name of Jean McConville, it emerged tonight.

Mrs McConville, who was abducted, was executed and her body buried on an isolated beach in Co Louth.

Her son confirmed he is to seek a meeting with the Sinn Féin president.

Michael McConville said the IRA must come clean over the murder of his mother following the inquest into her death in Dundalk, Co Louth.

The remains of her body were discovered in a shallow grave on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth last August, 31 years after she was taken from her west Belfast home and shot after being accused of being an informer for the security forces.

“This is not the end,” Mr McConville said at the conclusion of the hearing at Dundalk Courthouse.

“It’s the end of the closure of our mother’s death but the clearing of my mother’s name will not end until the IRA admits that they killed my mother in the wrong.

“They killed our mother for the reason, they said, that she was an informer.

“The evidence has proved that my mother wasn’t an informer. There’s medical records and everything else saying that my mother had a mental breakdown.”

Mr McConville said he was seeking the meeting with Mr Adams to resolve the issue.

“I want him to go to the IRA to ask them to clear our mother’s name,” he said.

“It’s been inflicted on us that our mother was an informer and they are just trailing our mother’s name down all the time and it’s about time they put this to rest.

“For once in their lives they want to do something right and admit the killing of Jean McConville was wrong and it was wrong what they have put her family through for all these years.”

Mrs McConville’s daughter, Helen McKendry, said: “This is not over for for us.

“We have come out of this court hoping to go into another court because this is now a murder inquiry.

“I just want to see an end to it all. Somebody might come forward and this might trigger somebody’s conscience.

“There won’t be any closure in this at all for me. I want the IRA to come clean and tell the truth about what happened to Jean McConville. They did murder an innocent woman.”

Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire described Mrs McConville’s death as a “cold, calculating and totally brutal murder”.

The mother-of-10 was taken from her home in Divis Flats, west Belfast, after she went to the aid of a critically wounded British soldier.

The IRA admitted murdering her, claiming she had been an informer – an allegation her family has vigorously denied.

A post-mortem examination confirmed Mrs McConville, who was 37 at the time of her death in December 1972, died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

She was one of a number of the so-called “Disappeared” who were murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.

Detective Superintendent Brendan McArdle told the inquest the murder investigation remained open and there could yet be a criminal prosecution.

“Nothing is impossible,” he said.

“I’m the eternal optimist when it comes to investigating homicides. I’ve been doing it for 24 years. I never give up.”

Det Supt McArdle said it was possible someone’s conscience could be pricked by the inquest into Mrs McConville’s death.

“It’s happened numerous times during the Troubles in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Arthur McConville told the inquest his mother was killed for being a family woman and a good wife to her husband.

He said her children’s lives were ruined the night eight masked IRA members burst into their west Belfast home and abducted their mother.

“We just waited and waited from that night for years, but we never saw our mother again,” he said.

Mr McConville said the 10 children had been orphaned in 1972 following the murder of Mrs McConville just months after her husband had died.

“We lost our mother and father in one year,” he said. “All our lives have been hell without her.

“She was murdered for being a family woman and a good wife to my father.”

Mr McConville told the inquest that four masked men and four masked women burst into the family home in the Divis Flats at around 6.30pm on the evening of December 7, 1972.

“We were all in a panic and all the kids were screaming,” he said.

Mr McConville, who as the eldest child was 16 years old at the time, said the armed gang demanded Mrs McConville come with them.

He said his mother was very upset and he asked to go with her. They initially allowed him but when they got to the bottom of the stairs there was a group of about 18-20 people wearing balaclavas, he added.

“They put a gun to my head and ordered me to go back upstairs,” Mr McConville said.

Dr Marie Cassidy, the State Pathologist, told the inquest Mrs McConville died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

A flattened .22-calibre lead bullet was found in her nasal passage during post-mortem.

Dr Cassidy said there was no evidence on Mrs McConville’s skeletal remains to suggest that she had suffered any other injuries prior to her death.

Mr Maguire repeated his warning that forensic evidence found during the examination of Mrs McConville remains could be used in any criminal proceedings against her killings.

The coroner ruled the recovery of Mrs McConville’s body was not covered by an agreement between the authorities and republicans.

The IRA agreed to help locate the bodies of the nine "Disappeared" in 1999 on the understanding that the only forensic tests carried out on any bodies found would be for identification purposes.

Mrs McConville’s body was not recovered following two official searches and was only found accidentally by John Garland while out walking with his children last August.

The jury of four men and four women returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

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