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Monday 22 October 2018

Andrew Lynch: We won't let Jean McConville atrocity go away you know, Mr Adams

The truth obviously hurts. Gerry Adams has chosen to get on his high horse over allegations that he ordered the IRA's murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972.

After years of trying to run away from the Provos' bloody legacy, it seems the Sinn Fein leader's past is finally catching up with him -- and with a new opinion poll showing his party's election campaign running out of steam, it couldn't be happening at a worse time.

Adams has nobody to blame but himself for reawakening this issue.

He has chosen to run for the Dail in the constituency of Louth, where the IRA secretly buried many of their victims during the Troubles.

The dead cannot speak for themselves, but their relatives can -- and one of them at least is determined that the Shinners should not be allowed to get away with murder yet again.

According to the official histories, the IRA was responsible for the deaths of around 1,700 people. Every single one was a human tragedy, but few were as stomach-churning as the killing of Jean McConville.

She was born a Protestant and was ostracised by her own community for marrying a Catholic and moving to the Falls Road -- and then made the fatal mistake of comforting a dying British soldier as he lay dying in the street.

At the time of her kidnapping, Jean was a widow with 10 children to feed.

Not content with taking her life, the IRA took her character as well.

Local republicans daubed "soldier lover" on the family door and then told the hungry children that their mother had run off with a British paratrooper. Thanks to the accidental discovery of Jean's body on a Louth beach in 2003, we now have a fair idea of what really happened.

She had her shoes taken off her, was walked to a shallow grave and then killed with a single shot to the back of the head.

Meanwhile her family was split up and sent to orphanages, inflicting further psychological scars that can never be fully healed.

Last year, an interview given by the notorious IRA commander Brendan 'Darkie Hughes' in Ed Moloney's book Voices From The Grave alleged that Gerry Adams was the man who ordered Jean McConville to be killed.

Up until now the Sinn Fein president has refused to challenge that claim in court.

As recently as last month, he told the Guardian newspaper: "Brendan said what Brendan said, and Brendan's dead, so let it go". Now it seems that Gerry cannot let it go. Instead, his lawyers are threatening to gag the Herald for simply reporting allegations that are already in the public domain.

Criminal

Since Adams has been accused of countless criminal acts over the last 30 years, why has this one suddenly put the wind up him? The answer is obvious.

Sinn Fein see this General Election as a massive opportunity to turn themselves into a real political force south of the border. Incredibly, Adams has used this campaign to depict himself as a paragon of virtue.

He has accused the other parties of being engaged in fraud, a monumental act of hypocrisy for which Micheal Martin rightly savaged him during Monday night's leaders debate.

Yesterday he called the Universal Social Charge "an act of gross terrorism" -- and in case anyone thought that was just an unfortunate slip of the tongue, added: "I use that term advisedly."

With Fianna Fail in meltdown, the Shinners want to reinvent themselves as a mainstream republican party that will lead the opposition in the next Dail and challenge for power on the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

Given all that, it's hardly surprising that Adams is desperate for grubby little episodes such as Jean McConville's murder to be airbrushed out of history.

Fortunately, that's not going to happen.

Helen McKendry, one of those children so cruelly treated by the IRA, is determined to keep on campaigning for the truth -- and when she accuses Adams of "dancing on my mother's grave", responsible newspapers such as this one will keep on reporting it. We already have a fair idea of who's going to be in government after this election. What we don't yet know is who's going to lead the opposition.

That's something for voters to think about as they complete their ballot papers on Friday week -- because whatever you think of Fianna Fail, they are in a different moral universe to the thugs and fanatics of the IRA.

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