Women past and present haunt the men of Sinn Féin

Analysis: A shot to the back of the head ended Jean McConville’s life

A family photo of Jean McConville with three of her children, taken shortly before she disappeared from her home in Belfast in 1972. Photograph: Paul McErlane/Reuters

A family photo of Jean McConville with three of her children, taken shortly before she disappeared from her home in Belfast in 1972. Photograph: Paul McErlane/Reuters

More than 40 years after she was “disappeared” down the barrel of the Provisional IRA’s guns, Jean McConville’s name is a byword for the legacy the republican movement has been unable to shake off.

Sinn Féin has seen its electoral base increase exponentially in the Republic in recent years. Any other party of its size winning 14 seats at the last election would have taken its place in a coalition government by now, or at least been seriously courted by the larger parties. But following a Troubles era dominated by male gunmen and bombers turned negotiators and peacemakers, it is the legacy issues presented by women that cling to Sinn Fein most doggedly now.

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