Ivor Bell given permission to travel for wedding anniversary

Republican is accused of involvement in the 1972 murder of Jean McConville by the IRA

Ivor Bell has had his bail conditions altered to allow him to go to Co Donegal to celebrate his wedding anniversary. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ivor Bell has had his bail conditions altered to allow him to go to Co Donegal to celebrate his wedding anniversary. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

A veteran republican accused of involvement in the murder of “Disappeared” victim Jean McConville by the IRA has had his bail conditions altered to allow him to go to Co Donegal to celebrate his wedding anniversary.

Ivor Malachy Bell (69), of Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was due to be arraigned at Belfast Crown Court on Friday on two charges over the murder of Ms McConville (37) in December 1972.

However, the arraignment was adjourned for a second time after his defence team said he was waiting to be examined by a Dublin-based consultant on whether he was fit to plead to the charges.

Bell faces two charges of soliciting Ms McConville’s murder.

The first charge states that “on a date unknown between the 31st day of October, 1972, and the 1st day of January, 1973, he encouraged persons not before the court to murder Jean McConville”.

The second count states that “on a date unknown between the 31st day of October, 1972, and the 1st day of January, 1973, he endeavoured to persuade persons not before the court to murder Jean McConville”.

The defendant was originally charged with aiding and abetting the murder and with being a member of the IRA, but the charges were subsequently amended by the North’s Public Prosecution Service.

Application

At the hearing on Friday, defence barrister Desmond Hutton told Mr Justice Seamus Treacy that he had an application to vary Mr Bell’s bail conditions to allow him to travel outside of the Northern Ireland jurisdiction.

Mr Hutton said that Mr Bell’s wedding anniversary was approaching and he “wanted to spend a week in Donegal with his wife” from Monday, October 17th, to Monday, October 24th.

“The police have assessed the address in Donegal and there are no difficulties with it.”

A prosecution lawyer told the court: “Police have confirmed that they have no objections to the address in Letterkenny. ”

He said that two of Mr Bell’s bail conditions would have to be suspended if the court granted the application.

The first condition was that he report to police once a week and the second is that he does not leave the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland without giving police 48-hours’ notice.

The prosecution barrister said that when Mr Bell was released on bail it was on condition of two signed sureties of £10,000 (about €11,100) each.

He asked that both individuals who put up the £10,000 sureties resign them to “make it clear to them and to the court” that Mr Bell was leaving the jurisdiction.

The judge granted the application to vary the bail conditions for one week and ordered that the sureties be resigned.

Abduction

Jean McConville, a widow from Belfast, was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in 1972 in front of her children after being wrongly accused of being a British army informant.

Following her abduction, she was shot dead and then secretly buried, becoming one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles.

In 1999, the IRA admitted the murder after information on her death was passed to police in the Republic.

Ms McConville’s body was found near Templetown Beach in Co Louth in 2003.

Part of the case against Mr Bell is based on the content of tapes secured by the PSNI.

The tapes are from an oral history of the Troubles put together by Boston College in the US.

The PSNI won a court battle in the US to gain access to some of the recordings, which had been recorded on the premise they would not be published until after the deaths of those taking part.

One of the interviews was allegedly given by Mr Bell — a claim the defendant denies.