Following the arrest of 77-year-old former IRA leader Ivor Bell in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has released a statement condemning the Boston College oral history project, on which Bell’s charges are based.
“It is clear that the so-called Boston Oral History project is an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort by those involved,” he said.
“The idea for this project originated with Paul Bew, an advisor to David Trimble and was taken up by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre who conducted the interviews. Both are vitriolic critics and opponents of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, of me in particular and of Sinn Féin and its leadership.’
On Saturday, in a Belfast court, Bell was charged with aiding and abetting in McConville’s murder – apparently based on information he gave during his interview for the Boston College project.
The aim of the project, run by journalist Ed Moloney and researcher Anthony McIntyre, was to collect oral histories about The Troubles from key figures involved. Both men have been accused by Sinn Fein of anti-Sinn Fein attitudes.
The oral histories were gathered under the premise that no interview would be released as long as the interview subject was still alive.
This was overturned last year when a US federal court ordered that all tapes relating to the murder of Jean McConville be turned over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
McConville, a mother of 10 who had converted to Catholicism before marrying her husband, was abducted by IRA members from her home in Belfast in December 1972. Suspected of being an informer, she was taken to an unknown location, interrogated, and shot in the back of the head. Her body was then buried on a beach in Co. Louth. The IRA acknowledged her murder in 1999. Her body wasn’t found until 2003.
Adams released his statement in response to media speculation that the PSNI may be interested in speaking to him about the Jean McConville case. He has consistently denied any involvement in her murder.
“I can understand the McConville family’s anger and hurt given what they have been through and given what some anti-peace process former republican activists have been alleging,” he said.
“However, let me repeat. What happened to Jean McConville was a terrible injustice. I was not involved in any part of it. If the PSNI wish to talk to me on this matter I am available to meet them. I have asked my solicitor to contact them.”
He also slammed the oral histories as “not a genuine oral history project,” adding that “Some of the individuals interviewed have gone to great lengths to attack the republican struggle, the peace process and the political process through lies, distortions and personal attacks.”