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Families of 'The Disappeared' tell their stories as Adams repeats McConville denial

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is likely to face more questions about his alleged membership of the IRA in the wake of a programme broadcast on RTÉ and the BBC tonight.

Jean McConville (left) with three of her children before she vanished in 1972
Jean McConville (left) with three of her children before she vanished in 1972
Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams has repeated that he had “no act or part” in the abduction, killing and burial of widow and mother-of-10 Jean McConville in a programme broadcast tonight.

The joint RTÉ/BBC programme ‘The Disappeared’, has linked Adams to the IRA’s abduction, murdering and secret burial of McConville who was among as many as 15 people who were ‘disappeared’ by the IRA during the Troubles.

In the programme, broadcast both in Ireland the UK tonight, host Darragh MacIntyre interviewed a number of relatives of the Disappeared who gave heart-rendering testimony about their ordeals.

The bodies of seven of those who were ‘disappeared’ during the Troubles have never been found and they are thought to buried in bogland.

They are Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Captain Robert Nairac, Brendan Megraw, and Seamus Ruddy.

McVeigh’s sister, Dympna, told the programme: “I’ve got an image in my head of Columba standing there crying, looking into a hole. Nobody got to say goodbye to him.”

The programme heard from one of McConville’s ten children, Agnes, who described how her mother was abducted.

“We could hear her squealing, still squealing and looked over at the banister on Divis Flats and there she was getting thrown into the back of a van. That was the last time that we saw her.”

Jean’s son Michael also recounted how, as an 11-year-old, he was abducted by the IRA’s youth wing, tied up, held for three hours, threatened with being shot, beaten and told not to tell the police what had happened.

McConville’s body was found on a beach in Louth 10 years ago by John Garland who recounted in detail how he came upon her remains.

imageScreengrab via RTÉ

‘No act or part to play’

The documentary also aired a taped recording of a former IRA commander in Belfast, Brendan Hughes, for the first time.

The now deceased Hughes described in the tape how “the order was given for them to be put down” in relation to two of the victims.

In the tapes he also accused Adams of ordering McConville’s killing, saying:

“There is only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. That man, right, is now the head of Sinn Féin.”

Repeatedly pressed by MacIntrye about the McConville case Adams repeated previous comments he has made.

“No, I had no act or part to play in either the abduction, the killing or the burial of Jean McConville, or indeed any of these other individuals and Brendan is telling lies,” he said.

“… And, opponents of our strategy, from their point of view, and obviously I profoundly disagree with them, they see us as having sold out, they see us as having been traitors and they also have their own demons to deal with.”

Adams said that his focus is trying to do what he can to “bring those remaining bodies to the families who grieve them, who want a burial place to go to”.

“All of us bare a responsibility, those of us who are in leadership, and I’ve never shirked that,” he added.

Earlier, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said that the party is likely to issue a response to tonight’s programme tomorrow morning.

Connect, Telephone Counselling and Support can be contacted on freephone: 1800 477 477

Read: Jean McConville family launch civil action against PSNI & MoD

Gerry Adams: I played no part in the abduction and killing of Jean McConville

Read: Actors appeal for location of 7 missing bodies killed during The Troubles

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Hugh O'Connell

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