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22nd-Mar-2014 11:45 pm - Case against McConville accused based on US interviews
Ivor Bell (77) refused bail on charges relating to 1972 murder of Jean McConville

Irish Times
22 March 2014

The police case against a veteran republican charged in connection with the notorious IRA murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at a US college, a court has heard.

The claim was made as Ivor Bell (77) was refused bail and remanded in custody by a district judge in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

But that undertaking was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to PSNI detectives.

The interviews included claims about the murder of Mrs McConville, who was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan, representing Bell, told district judge Amanda Henderson that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z ’, was his client.

But the solicitor insisted the person interviewed on the tape had denied any involvement in the murder.

“During those interviews Z explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Mr Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, pointing out that they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

“The defence submits that the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Grey-haired moustachioed Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast, sat impassively in the dock wearing a grey jumper as his lawyer made the claims.

Some of Mrs McConville’s children watched on from the public gallery.

A PSNI detective inspector, who earlier told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges, rejected Mr Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.

He claimed the transcript actually indicated Bell had “played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville”.

The officer said he opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction. He revealed that he had previously used an alias to travel to Spain and predicted he could use contacts within the IRA to travel beyond Northern Ireland.

But Mr Corrigan said that was out of the question, noting that his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions, that his family was based in Belfast and that he had “every incentive” to stay in Northern Ireland to prove his innocence.

“Are the prosecution seriously suggesting that a man in this serious ill health, who can’t walk up steps, is going to abscond for an offence where he has every incentive to attend court?” he said.

Judge Henderson said the case was a very “significant and sensitive” one and praised those in court for acting with dignity through the hearing.

She said she was more convinced with the argument the prosecution had made.

“I am persuaded by the prosecution in this case and on that basis I am refusing bail,” she said.

Bell was remanded in custody to appear before court again next month.

He waved to supporters in the public gallery as he was led out of the dock.

Mrs McConville was dragged away from her children by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in Belfast.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the allegations.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home.

The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to gardaí.

She became one of the so-called Disappeared, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

After the hearing Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s thoughts were with their mother.

“The pain of losing her has not diminished over the decades since she was taken from us murdered and secretly buried,” he said.

“She is in our hearts and our thoughts always. Whatever the future holds nothing will ever change that”.
22nd-Mar-2014 09:24 pm - Ex-IRA commander accused of role in notorious Troubles-era murder
Ivor Bell appears in court over 1972 murder of Jean McConville, in case which could implicate senior Irish republicans

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
22 March 2014

Even two decades after the IRA ceasefire, it is a crime from the bloodiest year of the Troubles that continues to haunt senior Irish republicans including Gerry Adams and could yet have fresh ramifications for the peace process.

In a sensational development inside a Belfast court it was alleged that a former IRA negotiator with the British government named fellow republicans involved in the kidnap, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville – one of the most notorious murders of the conflict.

The ex-IRA commander Ivor Bell appeared in Laganside court on Saturday morning where he faced charges of aiding and abetting in the shooting and disappearance of the mother of 10 in 1972.

Ivor Bell (BBC image)

The children and grandchildren of the murdered widow were in court to hear a detective allege that Bell was "Mr Z" on a tape recorded for Boston College in the US as part of the Belfast Project, a series of interviews with former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries.

Speaking outside the court, McConville's daughter Helen McKendry told The Observer that she hoped the case would lead to others going on trial for her mother's killing by the IRA.

"I hope this goes all the way up to the top," she said, "All the way up to Gerry Adams. There are more people who need to be in this court to answer what happened to my mother."

The McConville family, along with the former IRA Belfast commanding officer Brendan Hughes, have alleged that Adams created a secret unit to hunt down and kill informers in the city during the early part of the Troubles.

Before his death Hughes claimed that Adams gave the order for McConville to be abducted from her home in Divis Flats in west Belfast, taken across the Irish border, killed and buried in secret.

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

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

But his defence solicitor, Peter Corrigan, denied Bell had any involvement in the crime and said "the evidence was not credible".

The recording for the Belfast Project, which the Police Service of Northern Ireland obtained through the US courts, is the centrepiece of the crown's case against Bell.

His solicitor said Bell denied any involvement in the IRA murder of McConville.

Appealing for bail for his client, Corrigan stressed that Bell has not been a member of the Provisional IRA since 1985 and had no network around him to aid him to flee Northern Ireland. He told the judge that they would accept "any conditions that you see fit to impose on this defendant".

However, there was light applause from the McConville family in court when the judge, Fiona Bagnall, refused bail.

McConville was the most famous of the "Disappeared" – 16 people whom the IRA accused of being informers and who were shot and buried secretly across Ireland.

The IRA only admitted her murder in 1993 and her body was not discovered until 2003 on a beach in County Louth. No one until today has ever been charged in connection with her murder.

The IRA accused her of passing information to the British army but her family always denied this, claiming she was singled out because she had tended to a wounded soldier outside her flat.

An investigation by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman rejected the allegation she was an informer.

Bell was a senior IRA officer at the time McConville was seized by armed men and women, and torn away from her children in December 1972.

Six months earlier Bell was part of an IRA delegation that secretly met Willie Whitelaw and several British government officials at the late MP Paul Channon's flat in London.

Bell, allegedly alongside Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the future deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, met Whitelaw and his team to discuss a ceasefire. However, the truce later broke down amid ongoing violence in Belfast.

Bell was later expelled from the IRA for plotting a coup d'etat against its leadership in the mid-1980s and warned he would be "executed" if he set up a rival republican organisation.

The full trial against the veteran republican will begin on 11 April.
21st-Mar-2014 11:10 pm - Man charged in connection with murder of Jean McConville
Kildare Nationalist
21 March 2014



Ivor Bell in 1983 when he was released after Supergrass, Robert Lean, withdrew evidence against 11 men (Photo: Belfast Telegraph)

A veteran republican has been charged in connection with the IRA murder more than 40 years ago of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville.

Ivor Bell, 77, is due to appear in court in Belfast tomorrow accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

He was detained at his home in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast on Tuesday.

Mrs McConville, 37, was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in December 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

He murder is one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles.

She was dragged away from her children by a IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused her of passing information to the British Army in Belfast at the time

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the allegations.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home. The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to police in the Republic.

She became one of the so-called Disappeared, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

Bell was among of a delegation of republicans, which included Gerry Adams, now the Sinn Féin president, and Martin McGuinness, the North's Deputy First Minister and a former IRA commander in Derry who were flown by the RAF to London to have ceasefire talks with British ministers in 1972.

But the truce collapsed within days.
19th-Mar-2014 02:39 am - Man arrested in Northern Ireland over 1972 case of 'disappeared' mother
77-year-old held by detectives investigating IRA's kidnapping, killing and secret burial of Belfast widow Jean McConville

Henry McDonald
Guardian
18 Mar 2014



A former IRA chief of staff and negotiator for the Provisionals with the British government in 1972 is in custody tonight being questioned about the murder and disappearance of a widow whose death in the same year left 10 children orphaned.

West Belfast republican Ivor Bell was arrested in the city earlier today in connection with one of the most controversial murders of the early years of the Northern Ireland Troubles – the case of "disappeared" mother of 10 Jean McConville. The 77-year-old was detained in the city earlier today by detectives investigating the IRA's kidnapping, killing and secret burial of the Belfast woman in 1972.

Bell was part of an IRA delegation that met William Whitelaw at future Tory minister Paul Channon's flat in London six months before McConville's disappearance.

He and other IRA leaders were trying to negotiate a ceasefire with the British which broke down in the summer of 1972. The republican veteran went on to become a leading figure in the Provisionals but was later sentenced to death by the organisation for allegedly trying to stage a coup d'etat against Gerry Adams in the early 1980s because he became convinced the then West Belfast Sinn Féin MP and others around him were determined to "run down the war" and abandon armed struggle. Since his departure from the IRA, Bell has kept a low profile and effectively bowed out of republican politics.

Jean McConville became one of the most famous of the "disappeared" and her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth.

Ex-IRA Belfast commander Brendan Hughes has accused Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, of organising a secret unit which abducted and murdered McConville. The unit was charged with smoking out informers for the British within nationalist-republican areas and in most cases killing them and burying their bodies in secret. Adams has always denied the charge from his former friend and also insisted he was never in the IRA. Hughes made his allegation about Adams on tapes for a Boston College academic project in which ex-IRA and loyalist paramilitaries would speak frankly about their roles in the conflict but which would be released only when they died.

The man arrested today is being questioned at the Police Service of Northern Ireland's serious crimes suite in Antrim Police station. In 1999, the IRA admitted that it murdered and buried at secret locations nine of the Disappeared.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains was established in 1999 by a treaty between the British and Irish governments, which gave de facto amnesties for any IRA members who had knowledge about the whereabouts of the missing to come forward without fear of prosecution. It lists 16 people as "disappeared". Despite extensive searches, the remains of seven of them have not been found.
11th-Nov-2013 09:17 am - Jean McConville ‘killer’ is named
By Philip Bradfield
p.bradfield@newsletter.co.uk
News Letter
11 November 2013



The man who allegedly shot Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville was yesterday named as former Sinn Fein councillor and Belfast IRA commander Pat McGeown.

It was claimed yesterday that he also shot dead ‘Good Samaritan’ Protestant workman Sammy Llewellyn when he went to help Catholics on the Falls Road board up windows after an IRA bomb in 1975.

“I was recently approached by grassroots republicans who were sympathetic to the McConville family,” Jean McConville’s son Jim said yesterday in a Sunday paper.

“I was given some details of what happened and only two weeks ago I gave Pat McGeown’s name to my solicitor.”

The paper claimed that McGeown was only 17 when he shot Mrs McConville in the back of the head, and that he later rose to become a close political confidant of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

The News Letter understands McGeown’s name had been widely linked to Mrs McConville’s murder before he died in 1996.

Gerry Kelly MLA said at McGeown’s funeral that he had been a prisoner in “Cage 11” of the Maze with Gerry Adams. Adams officially launched the Pat McGeown Community Endeavour Award at Belfast’s Upper Springfield Development Trust in 1998.

He described McGeown as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”, adding that McGeown “would have been one of the last people to expect an award to be given in his name, and yet few others could have deserved the honour more”.

Mr Kelly said McGeown started “barricade duty” at 13 and then joined the local unit of the IRA in the Beechmount area. He added that “at one point he held the most senior rank in the Belfast brigade of the IRA”.

The book Lost Lives, which lists all those who died during the Troubles, said McGeown’s health never recovered after 47 days on hunger strike.

He was jailed in the Republic for explosives offences aged 14 and at 16 was interned before being imprisoned for a bombing attack.

He served 15 years for bombing the Europa Hotel and was the Officer Commanding of the IRA in the Maze. After being released in 1986, he went on to become group leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council.

Sinn Fein yesterday declined to offer any comment.

Another Sunday paper yesterday reported that the IRA member, then aged 16, who drove Mrs McConville away from her children has phoned her daughter Helen McKendry to apologise.
3rd-Nov-2013 01:25 am - Gerry Adams ordered Jean McConville killing, says ex-IRA commander on tape
Recording of deceased Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes names Sinn Féin president as giving execution order

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
2 November 2013



Jean McConville, who disappeared from west Belfast in 1972, with three of her 10 children. (Photograph: PA)

A tape recording of a deceased Belfast IRA commander in which Gerry Adams is accused of ordering the murder and secret burial of a widowed mother of 10 in 1972 will be broadcast for the first time this week.

A former IRA hunger striker, Brendan Hughes, alleges the Sinn Féin president was one of the heads of a unit that kidnapped, killed and buried west Belfast woman Jean McConville. Hughes, who died in 2008, is recorded as saying: "There was only one man who gave that order for that woman to be executed – and that man is now the head of Sinn Féin." Hughes also says that Adams went to the McConville children after their mother was abducted and promised an internal IRA investigation. "That man is the man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did."

Adams is challenged on the BBC's Storyville programme over whether he was a senior Provisionals commander in Belfast at the time McConville was abducted, just before Christmas 1972. "That's not true," Adams replies, adding that he has not "shirked" his own responsibilities in the conflict. The Sinn Féin leader has always insisted that he was never in the IRA.

In response to the tape, Adams, who is the Sinn Féin member for Louth in the Irish parliament, accuses his former friend of lying. "Brendan is telling lies," Adams tells the programme. He adds: "I had no act or part to play in the abduction, killing or burial of Jean McConville or any of the others."

An expert forensic detective tells the joint BBC Northern Ireland-RTE production that the IRA sometimes weighed bodies down with heavy stones to ensure that the corpses would not surface if the bogs they were buried in ever dried up.

Storyville reveals that the first of the "disappeared" to be found back in 1999, north Belfast man Eamon Molloy, had received the last rites from a Catholic priest. The priest saw Molloy tied naked to a bed and asked his captors if any of them had rosary beads that their prisoner could hold when he was to be shot.

Security sources in the Republic told the Observer last week that up to four additional men who were "disappeared" by the IRA have not yet been identified by the organisation set up to find the Troubles' missing victims. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) has so far found eight of the "disappeared", including McConville, but seven on their official list are still unaccounted for.

A spokesman for the ICLVR, Geoff Knupfer, said: "At this moment there is no information to suggest there is any addition to the list." However, security sources insist that at least four IRA victims were buried in secret. The film is to be broadcast on BBC4, BBC Northern Ireland and RTE on Tuesday.

It includes a reading of the late Seamus Heaney's poem 'The Bog Queen', which the Nobel laureate agreed could be used in the programme to remember the plight of the "disappeared".

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