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Jean McConville's daughter seeks civil case against Gerry Adams

Published 30/09/2015

Jean McConville was dragged screaming from her children in west Belfast in 1972 by a gang of up to 12 men and women after being wrongly accused of informing to the security forces (handout/PA Wire)
Jean McConville was dragged screaming from her children in west Belfast in 1972 by a gang of up to 12 men and women after being wrongly accused of informing to the security forces (handout/PA Wire)
Helen McKendry said she is determined to get justice for her mother Jean McConville

A daughter of IRA murder victim Jean McConville has instructed a top London law firm to look at launching a civil suit against Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Helen McKendry's move comes after prosecutors in Northern Ireland decided not to proceed with a criminal case against Mr Adams and six others because there was not enough evidence.

A spokesman for McCue and Partners Lawyers, which won a multi-million landmark civil case against the Omagh bombers, said: "The family have waited patiently for the DPP decision.

"They now wish to determine whether other judicial avenues are open to them to secure justice and accountability for Jean's murder."

Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother-of-10, was dragged screaming from her children in the Divis flats in west Belfast in 1972 by a gang of up to 12 men and women after being wrongly accused of informing to the security forces.

She was interrogated, shot in the back of the head and then secretly buried, becoming one of the "Disappeared'' victims of the Troubles.

Her body was not found until 2003 when a storm uncovered her remains on a beach in Co Louth in the Irish Republic, 50 miles from her home.

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said seven people including Mr Adams and Sinn Fein's northern chairman Bobby Storey, as well as four women, would not face any charges connected to the murder - including IRA membership.

All were arrested last year, with senior prosecutors taking many months to assess the police files.

The p olice evidence was not strong enough, they said.

In civil cases the burden of proof is the balance of probabilities, which is lower than in the criminal court where prosecutors have to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The evidence against Mr Adams, who has always strongly denied involvement, related to allegations made by former paramilitaries to researchers compiling an oral archive of the Troubles for Boston College, Massachusetts.

Former IRA commander Brendan Hughes and Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price, both now dead, claimed Mr Adams ordered the killing - allegations the republican veteran has strenuously rejected.

Detectives from the PSNI seized the tapes in late 2013 after winning a court battle in the US.

However, it is understood prosecutors concluded the "hearsay" evidence on the tapes was not of sufficient strength to be relied on in court, as it lacked clarity and much of it was based on inference and speculation.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mr Adams described the PPS decision not to prosecute as "long overdue" and questioned police motives for his arrest last April.

"There was never any real basis for questioning me in respect of this case," he said. "I played no act or part in Jean McConville's death."

One man has been charged in connection with the historic case.

Ivor Bell, 78,from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, denies aiding and abetting the murder and IRA membership.

His case has not yet reached trial.

Mrs McKendry said she is determined to get justice for her mother.

She told the BBC: "It has been a long road. It has been 43 years. I want the truth and I want her name cleared for not just my sake but for my children and grandchildren."

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