Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Murder of Jean McConville

Gerry Adams has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of Jean McConville, murdered by the IRA in 1972.

By coincidence, I'm currently reading Ed Moloney's book about Adams, the IRA and the peace process, A Secret History of the IRA.

According to Ed Moloney, McConville was working as a British 'spotter,' reporting on IRA activities in her area. She was caught and warned by the IRA, but her British controller compelled her to continue working, after which the IRA murdered her.  I mention this not to try to justify the cold-blooded murder of a widow with 10 children, but to suggest this might blow back in British faces as well, which is good.  Full and frank disclosures about what both sides were up to is essential.

The British agent story has been attacked and has never been substantiated. On the other hand, the suggestion she was murdered by the IRA for giving comfort to an injured soldier seems a bit far fetched.  Murdering her and denying it happened wouldn't really send a message to other potential collaborators.  But disappearing was what was done to systemic traitors. 

Moloney says plans for killing would have been known to Adams, and would have been authorised by him as the IRA Belfast commander. Oddly, this fits with what Adams has said: "While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville."

Which is a bit equivocal.  He is not denying all knowledge of it, or that he authorised the deed.

Who actually wanted the killing is not identified.  Moloney only says the killing was the result of the actions of two "ruthless men" - one the British controller, the other a "senior IRA figure in Belfast who decided that her secret death would suit his purposes."

Moloney identifies Adams as an IRA member and the man in charge of the IRA's Belfast unit that carried out the killing. Adams has always denied involvement with the IRA and accused Moloney of libel (but never got around to suing him.  Might be he suddenly realises Moloney was right all along, especially the bit about British intelligence using McConville as an agent.

I note Ivor Bell, for some time Adams's lieutenant, was arrested more quietly a few days ago.  He was Adams's deputy as brigade commander at the time.  I suspect Adams is simply helping set up his old comrade and will be mysteriously found blameless of involvement in McConville's murder, as will British intelligence.

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