Belfast Telegraph

Jean McConville's family brands Gerry Adams 'unbalanced'

By David Young

The family of Jean McConville have reacted with anger after Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams referred to her kidnap as something that "happens in war" in a US television interview.

Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old mother-of-10, was taken from her Belfast home in front of her children and murdered by the IRA in 1972.

Seamus McKendry, husband of Mrs McConville's daughter Helen, said: "These remarks show the utter hypocrisy of the man. He's heading up the campaign over the Ballymurphy massacres - but he's not saying 'these things happen in war' to them, is he? I mean, no disrespect to the Ballymurphy families, but it might be time for them to find someone with more understanding and more credibility to lead their campaign.

"They're entitled to the truth, and to justice - and so are we."

The Sinn Fein leader's remarks come in a CBS TV documentary to be screened in the USA tomorrow.

During the hour-long programme the Sinn Fein President also insisted the horrific murder was no different to what occurred in conflicts involving US and British armed forces.

In a preview of the documentary, CBS interviewer Scott Pelley asks Mr Adams: "How do you orphan 10 children, what kind of depravity is that?"

Mr Adams responds: "That's what happens in war, Scott.

"That's not to minimise it. That's what American soldiers do, British soldiers do, Irish republican soldiers do, you know. That's what happens in every single conflict."

Mr Adams has always insisted he played no part in Mrs McConville's abduction and murder.

In May 2014, he was arrested and questioned about the 1972 kidnap and murder of Mrs McConville from her home in the Divis Street area of west Belfast. He was released without charge after four days of questioning by detectives.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson condemned the Sinn Fein leader's assertion that the IRA were engaged in a war. He said: "We do not accept for one moment that there was a war in Northern Ireland, but even if there had been, the murder of Jean McConville would be a war crime.

"Let us be clear, the abduction, torture and murder of Jean McConville was a heinous criminal act by a terrorist organisation. This was a barbaric act, and anyone who could suggest this was an act of war could not possibly appreciate its impact on the McConville family.

"Gerry Adams' explanation provides no excuse for the barbarity of the crimes the IRA committed against Jean McConville and her family."

Former UUP leader Tom Elliott said he utterly rejected Mr Adams' description of the IRA campaign as a 'war'.

"This wasn't a war. It was a terrorist campaign, and the abduction and murder of Jean McConville was a dastardly and cowardly act," he said.

TUV leader Jim Allister called Mr Adams' remarks "a bid to rewrite history".

"This is the perverted view of IRA terrorism that we have come to expect from Mr Adams," he said.

"It's a bid to rewrite and justify the history of the IRA's bloodthirsty terror campaign.

"Tearing a mother from her family and dragging her away to be murdered was despicable and amoral. Sinn Fein like to pretend they were at war, but there are also such things as war crimes - but I doubt that Gerry Adams would wish to face a war crimes tribunal."

Mr McKendry revealed that he and wife Helen are actively considering a civil action against Mr Adams. "Should it take another 20 years, we are determined to see that man in court," he said.

Mrs McConville's body was recovered from Shelling Hill Beach in Co Louth in 2003.

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