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Picture of the week: Frozen in time at poignant ceremony

A simple framed photograph marks the spot where the family of IRA murder victim Jean McConville planted a tree on what would have been her 80th birthday this week.

Instead, the west Belfast mother-of-10 is frozen in time, aged 38, in a picture taken not long before her abduction and murder in December 1972.

Relatives planted the sapling and released seven white doves into the air during a poignant ceremony of music and prayer at a victims' support centre in Belfast.

Mrs McConville, a widow, was among the group of victims known as The Disappeared. Sixteen people were kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA during the Troubles.

Her body was found in 2003 – 31 years after her death – by a man walking on a beach in Co Louth.

Six of Mrs McConville's children gathered for Wednesday's tree-planting ceremony at the Wave Trauma Centre.

As the names of all of her 10 children were read out, daughters Suzanne and Agnes and sons Michael, Archie and Thomas shared their thoughts on a day that should have been a birthday celebration, rather than a memorial service.

Even as the family was gathering in north Belfast, detectives were releasing a 56-year-old man who was being questioned in connection with Jean's abduction and murder.

The man presented himself to police on Wednesday morning and was held at Antrim custody suite. He was later released without charge pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

This week's arrest followed Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams' release from police custody, also pending a report to the PPS.

He was questioned for four days by detectives investigating Mrs McConville's death. He denies any involvement in her murder.

Veteran republican Ivor Bell has been charged in connection with the case. Bell (77), of Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, is accused of aiding and abetting the murder and of membership of the IRA. He is currently on bail.

Police are also preparing files on four women detained in connection with the murder.

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