herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Fury over claims that Adams ordered mum killed

STORM: Pressure mounts on SF leader after claims by former IRA commander

ONE of the IRA’s most senior commanders said Gerry Adams personally ordered the murder and burial of a mother-of-10.

Pressure grew on the Sinn Fein leader’s position today after the revelations by Adams’ former friend Brendan Hughes.



The 1972 kidnapping and murder of widow Jean McConville was one of the most sickening crimes of the Troubles. Her body was not found until 2003.



The revelations are made in a new book. Ms McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry now says she wants Adams “to admit that he ordered my mother’s murder”. “I just want him to tell the truth,” she added.



Former IRA commander ‘Darkie' Hughes also claimed the Sinn Fein leader even insisted the Belfast widow be buried rather than shot in the street.



The accusations were made in interviews Hughes gave to a researcher for Boston College in 2001 and 2002.



He agreed to speak on condition that the material would not be published until after his death.



Hughes, a former commander of the IRA in Belfast, said he never carried out a major IRA operation “without the okay or the order from Gerry.



“And for him to sit in his plush office in Westminster or Stormont or wherever and deny it, I mean it's like Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust.”



Hughes insisted: “There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. That man is now the head of Sinn Fein.”



“And yet he went to see [McConville's] kids to promise an investigation into her death.” Adams, the Sinn Fein president, has denied any involvement in the killing.



Ms McConville was shot dead by the IRA in 1972. Her body was not found until 2003, on a beach near Carlingford in Co Louth.



Asked as recently as last month if he was aware that she was to be murdered and her body dumped, Adams replied “No”.



Hughes' interviews are contained in a new book, Voices From The Grave by journalist Ed Moloney.



He also suggested Adams gave the order for the Provisional IRA to hang one of its own members in Long Kesh in June 1973. The man, a 22-yearold, had cracked under police questioning.



Hughes, who died in 2008, said he found it “so difficult to come to terms [with] the fact that [Adams] has turned his back on everything that we ever did”.



McConville's killing was one of the most high-profile murders of the Troubles.



Hughes said his unit found an army transmitter in McConville's flat in Divis.



He said he sent a “squad” over to the McConville's house “to check it out and there was a transmitter”.



The device was retrieved and McConville was taken away for interrogation.



He said she admitted what she had been doing.



As she was a woman, she was released with a warning, Hughes added.



But within a few weeks another army transmitter was put in McConville's flat so she was “arrested” again and taken away, he claimed.



Hughes said another IRA leader, Ivor Bell, argued for the body to be dumped in public, but was overruled.



“(Bell) argued, 'if you are going to kill her, put her on the street. What's the sense of killing her and burying her if no-one knows what she was killed for?'“

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