Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

'Treat mother's death as war crime'

Michael McConville spoke to the media, with members of his family, after the inquest in 2004 into his mother Jean McConville's death

Jean McConville's IRA killers should stand trial at the Hague, her son has said.

Michael McConville, who was aged 11 when his mother was snatched from her west Belfast home more than 40 years ago, claimed her death should be treated a war crime.

"Those that took my mother away and senior Sinn Fein figures that supported them should be rounded up and made to stand trial at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, but that will never happen, not in this country," he said.

Mrs McConville, a widowed mother-of-10 was one of 17 people abducted, killed and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles. She was dragged from her home at Divis flats by a gang of up to 18 IRA men and women in January 1972.

Her body was found more than three decades later at Shelling Beach, Co Louth, in August 2003. Forensic tests revealed she had been badly beaten and shot in the back of the head. The discovery was made by a member of the public.

Mr McConville, who spent five years in a children's home separated from his siblings after his mother's disappearance, said the family still had many unanswered questions.

"Apparently this man came across her body by accident; he found a rag and started digging with his kids' bucket and spade and then he came across a human bone and when he dug some more he got her body. This is the official version but the family have always disputed this; I think it is too convenient. My mother was missing for over 30 years and her body just happened to be found on a beach by a man playing with his kids," he added.

To date the bodies of 10 people - who became known as The Disappeared - have been recovered. A further seven people including west Belfast IRA man Joe Lynskey, Brendan McGraw from Twinbrook and SAS-trained officer Captain Robert Nairac have never been found.

Meanwhile, a fourth search is being carried out in Co Monaghan for the body of Columba McVeigh who disappeared from Dublin in 1975. Writing in a new book, The Disappeared Of Northern Ireland's Troubles, which will be launched at Belfast's Lyric Theatre on Friday, alongside relatives of other victims, his brother Oliver said more should be done to recover the bodies of those still missing.

"In my opinion Sinn Fein and the IRA need to answer for what they have done. They may have admitted to their sins, they may feel their conscience has been cleansed and that all of us will just go away in time but this is not over by a long shot. They need to recover all the bodies," he said.

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