Former IRA leader Brendan Hughes was last night heard accusing Gerry Adams of being behind one of the most notorious killings of the Troubles.
In the interview recorded shortly before his death — and broadcast on RTE — Hughes was heard saying the Sinn Fein leader was in control of the IRA gang which abducted and murdered mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972.
Hughes, an ex-Army Council member, died in 2008, but he gave audio testimony of his role in the Troubles to the archive of Boston College in 2001 saying it could only be released after his death.
Mrs McConville became one of the people known as the ‘Disappeared’. Her remains were discovered buried on Shelling Hill beach in Co Louth in 2003.
While details of his claims about Gerry Adams have been printed before, the tapes were played for the first time in the RTE programme Voices from the Grave on last night.
Mr Adams has always denied being involved in Mrs McConville's disappearance.
However in the interview, Hughes — who was known as The Dark — claims the IRA twice found a British Army radio transmitter in her home in Divis flats in west Belfast.
“We took her away and interrogated her and she told us what she was doing. She said she was getting paid by the British to pass on information. Because she was a woman we let her go with a warning. A few weeks later another transmitter was put into her house and she was still co-operating with the British.
“A special squad was brought into the operation then called The Unknowns. If you wanted anyone to be taken away they normally done it. I had no control over this squad. Gerry (Adams) had control over this squad.”
“I knew she was to be executed. I didn’t know how she was to be buried or ‘disappeared’ as they call it now.”
Hughes' account of his life in the IRA has already been published in a book, Voices from the Grave, by journalist Ed Moloney.
In the documentary Baroness Nuala O’Loan insists that Jean McConville was not an informer. The former Police Ombudsman said: “I’m satisfied with both the security service and the British army that she was not an informant for them, absolutely satisfied.”
In the tapes Brendan Hughes spoke about how he organised daily IRA operations with Gerry Adams before their joint arrest in 1973.
He said: “In 1973 Gerry was OC (Officer Commanding) of the Belfast Brigade and I was Operations Officer. We met every day to plan what operations were going to take place in the next step in the war. That’s what we were doing the day we were arrested. They beat me with a small hammer.
“I was punched, kicked and interrogated. Adams passed out three times and they revived him with buckets of water.”
He also said Gerry Adams was responsible for saving his life in the early 1970s when he was chased and shot by the British Army.
Hughes said: “I didn’t realise how much blood I had lost. Gerry went and organised a doctor. He sowed up.”