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Ivor Bell leaving the Belfast Magistrates' Court in 2016, aged 79. PA Images

Republican Ivor Bell found not guilty of soliciting murder of Jean McConville

The mother-of-ten was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back of the head in December 1972.

VETERAN REPUBLICAN IVOR Bell has been cleared of soliciting the murder of Jean McConville in 1972, after a trial which heard a claim that Gerry Adams recommended her secret burial.

The former Sinn Féin president rejected the allegation as he appeared as a witness at a trial of the facts into two charges against Bell.

Five of Jean McConville’s surviving children were at Belfast Crown Court today as a jury of four women and eight men found Bell not guilty of encouraging her murder.

Bell (82) of Ramoan Gardens in Belfast, was not present for the trial of the facts which came after he was found medically unfit to stand trial in December last year. He was excused from attending due to his health.

irajean-mcconville-children Jean McConville with three of her children in 1972. PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

Judge Mr Justice O’Hara directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty having earlier ruled that taped interviews, which were the central plank of the prosecution case, were inadmissible.

“As a result of some legal rulings which have been made over the last two days there is now no evidence that the prosecution can put before you to support the case it was putting against Mr Bell,” he said.

“My role now is to direct you to return a verdict of not guilty because you simply cannot find him to have done the acts alleged.”

The judge also lifted restrictions that had prevented reporting of the two-week trial of the facts.

In a statement following today’s verdict, McConville’s family released a statement in which they said they were “bitterly disappointed” at the outcome and demanded a full public inquiry in their mother’s murder. 

“For 20 years the IRA denied they had anything to do with her murder and disappearance and they only admitted it when it suited them,” the family said. 

“She was not an informer and Gerry Adams has confirmed in court that he didn’t believe that she was. She was a loving working class widowed mother doing her best to raise ten children.

“They murdered her because they could. We may not have got justice but we have got some truth. But this cannot finish here,” the family went on to say. 

“We need and demand a full public inquiry. We’ve heard Gerry Adams often call for inquiries. Will he support this one?

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