Adams will not face prosecution over Jean McConville murder

Sinn Féin leader among seven questioned in relation to IRA abduction of woman in 1972

The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland confirmed on Tuesday there will be no prosecution of Gerry Adams or six others questioned after hearsay evidence emerged from the Boston College Belfast Project. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland confirmed on Tuesday there will be no prosecution of Gerry Adams or six others questioned after hearsay evidence emerged from the Boston College Belfast Project. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will not be prosecuted in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland confirmed on Tuesday there will be no prosecution of Mr Adams or six others questioned after hearsay evidence emerged from the Boston College Belfast Project.

The widowed mother of 10, was abducted from her home in west Belfast by the IRA in 1972 and subsequently interrogated, murdered and buried on a Co Louth beach.

Her body was discovered in August 2003 on Shellinghill beach.

At a press briefing the PPS deputy director Pamela Atchison said careful consideration had been given to the case but there was insufficient evidence to pursue prosecution in regard to seven people questioned by police in connection with the investigation.

“We have given careful consideration to the evidence currently available in respect to each of the three men and four women reported and have concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any of them for a criminal offence.”

‘Long overdue’

Mr Adams has described the PPS decision as “long overdue”.

“There was never any real basis for questioning me in respect of this case. I played no act or part in Jean McConville’s death,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

“I support the PSNI. But the timing of my arrest showed there remain elements within the PSNI who are against Sinn Féin. But they will not succeed.

“I voluntarily went to the PSNI last year after a concerted series of leaks claiming that I was about to be arrested.

“For some time I have been the target of a sustained and malicious campaign seeking to involve me with the killing of Mrs McConville.

“These claims have also been seized upon and repeated by my political opponents, including the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader, to score political points against Sinn Féin and me.

“I want to encourage anyone with information to assist in the return of the bodies of those people killed and secretly buried by the IRA. I have worked with others towards this and I will continue to do so. I want to thank those who have come forward with such information.

‘Huge hurt’

“I am also very conscious of the huge hurt inflicted on the McConville family. The abduction, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville was wrong.

“Sinn Féin has agreed with others, through the Stormont House Agreement, processes for addressing the legacy of the past. We are committed to implementing them.”

The McConville family was informed of the decision of the PPS,which will continue to liaise with them.

In March 2014, veteran republican Ivor Bell (78) was charged in relation to soliciting the murder of Ms McConville, one of a group of victims known as the Disappeared, and is currently awaiting trial.

The remaining seven – three men aged 57, 59 and 66, and four women aged 58, 59, 59 and 61 – will not be prosecuted.

Mr Adams (66) and the northern chairman of the party Bobby Storey (59) are among the seven.

Last year Mr Adams was questioned for four days at Antrim police station after he presented himself for interview.

He has always denied any involvement in the killing, one of the most controversial of the conflict in the North.

The key evidence against Mr Adams was interviews with Dolours Price, Brendan Hughes and Mr Bell alleging he played a role in ordering the murder.

It is understood no other evidence against Mr Adams was presented and what was available did not meet the test for prosecution therefore there was no reasonable prospect of securing any conviction.