Man released after questioning over Jean McConville murder

73-year-old was latest man to be arrested by PSNI detectives over 1972 case

A man has been arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972. McConville (left) pictured with her children shortly before she disappeared. Photograph: PA

A man has been arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville in 1972. McConville (left) pictured with her children shortly before she disappeared. Photograph: PA

 

A 73-year-old man arrested today by detectives investigating the abduction and murder of Jean McConville has been released without charge.

The man was detained by detectives from the Serious Crime Branch of the PSNI in Dunmurray this morning.

He was taken to the Serious Crime Suite at Antrim police station for questioning and later released unconditionally, PSNI detective inspector Neil McGuiness said.

Several people have been detained and questioned this year in connection with the 1972 murder, the most high profile being Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. Mr Adams (65) was released in May without charge after four days in police custody.

Today’s arrest came as Belfast man Ivor Bell (77), who has been charged with paramilitary membership and aiding and abetting the murder, made his latest appearance in court in relation to the case.

In December 1972, Mrs McConville was dragged, screaming, away from her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast by a gang of up to 12 men and women.

Her family had later speculated the IRA wrongly assumed she was an informer. Mrs McConville had also converted from Protestant to Catholic to marry her husband Arthur McConville, a Catholic former British Army soldier who died of cancer in early 1972.

There has also been a suggestion, although uncorroborated, that she tended to a wounded British soldier outside her door in the summer, just months before her murder.

In the years that followed the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the Republican movement insisted Mrs McConville was an informer.

Former IRA member Brendan Hughes alleged she had only been killed after being warned to stop supplying information. However, a Police Ombudsman investigation in 2006 found no evidence to support that contention.

It also concluded the murder had not been investigated until 1995, when a minor probe was undertaken by the RUC.

After years of searching, Mrs McConville’s body was found in 2003 when heavy rain unearthed the remains at Shellinghill Beach on the Cooley peninsula in Co Louth, 50 miles from her home.