Veteran Republican to go on trial next month

A former IRA commander Ivor Bell appeared in court in Belfast on Saturday morning last on charges of aiding and abetting in the shooting and disappearance in 1972 of Jean McConville, the mother of 10 whose body was recovered at Shilling beach in August 2003.

At court a detective alleged that Bell was “Mr Z” on a tape recorded for Boston College in the United States as part of the Belfast Project, a series of interviews with former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries.

It was alleged in court that in the recording, Bell implicates himself and other top republicans in the McConville case.

The recording for the Belfast Project, which the Police Service of Northern Ireland obtained through the US courts, is expected to be the centrepiece of the case against Mr Bell.

Before his death the former IRA officer Brendan Hughes claimed that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams gave the order for Jean McConville to be abducted from her home in west Belfast, taken across the border, and killed.

The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the McConville murder or that he was ever in the IRA.

In a statement to the Dundalk Democrat, Mr Adams said that due process prevents him from commenting on the recent charging of a man in relation to the death of Jean McConville.

“This is now a matter for the courts,” the Dail deputy said. “However, the killing of Jean McConville and the disappearing of her remains was wrong and a grievous injustice to her family.

“The injustice suffered by the McConville family is one of many legacy issues relating to the conflict.

“We must bear in mind in all of this that there has been a virtual amnesty for British armed forces, including state and state-sponsored killings.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international truth recovery process.

“In the absence of that, we have agreed to and are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals. These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”


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