Prosecution in Jean McConville case to go ahead

Veteran republican Ivor Bell has been charged in connection with murder

Ivor Bell, leaving Belfast Laganside Court, where he faced counts of aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville and of IRA membership. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ivor Bell, leaving Belfast Laganside Court, where he faced counts of aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville and of IRA membership. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The prosecution of veteran republican Ivor Bell for alleged involvement in the IRA murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville is to proceed.

The North’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was given a court deadline of yesterday to decide whether the case of Bell (78) from Ramoan Gardens should finally go ahead.

A lawyer for the PPS, after a number of court extensions, told district judge George Conner at Belfast Magistrates Court that the prosecution would be proceeding.

Bell is charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Ms McConville who in 1972 was abducted from her home in west Belfast by the IRA in front of her children, interrogated, driven across the Border, murdered and secretly buried on a Co Louth beach. In August 2003 her body was found on Shellinghill beach.

The murder of Ms McConville, one of the Disappeared, is viewed as one of the most controversial and harrowing of the Troubles.

Last year the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was arrested and questioned by detectives as part of the PSNI investigation into her murder.

Former colleagues of Mr Adams, the late Brendan Hughes and the late Dolours Price, claimed Mr Adams was involved in ordering her abduction and killing. He has consistently denied these allegations.

Bellis also charged with IRA membership. He denies all charges.

Move welcomed

Ms McConville’s son, Michael, welcomed the prosecution move. “We are just glad the way it went. It’s in the hands of the court and police now. We are just waiting to see the outcome and will just keep an open mind until then,” he said.

Bell was released on continuing bail and ordered to come back to court in six weeks when a date will be set for a preliminary inquiry to establish whether the case will proceed to trial in the Crown Court.

The PPS lawyer said that, due to extensive preparatory work, six weeks was needed before prosecutors would be in a position to set a date for the next hearing.

Bell’s solicitor Peter Corrigan said his client, who has failing health, had already waited 14 months since he was charged.