Gerry Adams, 65, the leader of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican party, has been arrested in connection with the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville in 1972, reports The Irish Independent. She was 37 when she abducted from her apartment in the Divis neighborhood of West Belfast in December 1972. It wasn’t until August 2003 when her body was found on a beach in the Republic of Ireland.
A 65 year old man has been arrested this evening in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in December 1972.
— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) April 30, 2014
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The PSNI are Calling it an ‘Arrest’
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said that Adams has been “arrested.” Sinn Fein are saying that Adams went voluntarily to be interviewed by cops. In March 2014, IRA man Ivor Bell, 77, was charged in relation to McConville’s murder.
2. The Arrest Asks Further Questions About Adams’ Membership of the IRA
Once again Adams’ purported membership of IRA is likely to come under the spotlight. The IRA first claimed responsibility for the murder of McConville in 1999. In an interview with Boston College, Republican activist Dolours Price, said she abducted McConville on the orders of Adams. Price died in 2013. Her interviews with Boston College were done on the understanding that the tapes would never be publicly released until after her death. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from Irish Republican activists in Northern Ireland to prevent the tapes from being made public.
3. Jean McConville Had 10 Children
Jean McConvville, a mother-of-ten, was abducted and murdered by the IRA after she helped a British soldier. Some Republicans have claimed that McConville was a spy for the British security forces and had been reporting on terrorist acitivties. As recently as 2005, Sinn Fein party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin, said that her abduction and murder were in line with common war practice. This led Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole to call McConville’s murder a “warcrime by all accepted national and international standards.”
One of her sons, Robbie, was a member of the IRA and was in prison when his mother was abducted and murdered. He later defected from the group to join the emerging Irish Nationalist Liberation Army after his release.
4. Adams Released a Statement About McConville
In March 2013, Adams spoke about the murder of McConville saying that he would be prepared to meet with the PSNI over the case.
He added that the hiding of her body as “wrong and a grevious injustice to her and her family.”
His full statement read:
Last month I said that I was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening.“As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville.
I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.
Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.
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.
Sinn Féin has signed up to the Haass proposals for dealing with the past. While I also respect the right of families if they wish to seek legal redress there remains a huge onus on the two governments and the political parties to face up to all these issues and to agree a victim centred process which does this.
5. There Has Been Renewed Violent in Northern Ireland Recently
There has been a rash of violence recently in Northern Ireland relating to sectarian tensions. This all comes ahead of the Orange marching season during the summer.