Belfast Telegraph

Shocking account of Jean’s murder told by now-dead Dolours Price in new documentary

 

By Suzanne Breen

Former IRA woman Dolours Price is heard describing the abduction, murder and secret burial of Jean McConville in unprecedented detail in a new documentary.

I, Dolours, which premieres this weekend at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, features a video-recorded interview that journalist Ed Moloney conducted with her.

It includes new revelations about the 1972 murder of Mrs McConville, the Belfast mother-of-10 whom the IRA alleged was an informer.

In previous interviews Price confessed her role in driving Mrs McConville across the border and handing her over to a Dundalk IRA unit.

It was believed those republicans then murdered the Belfast woman, whose body was found in Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth, in 2003.

But Price reveals that while the Dundalk IRA members had dug a grave for Mrs McConville, they refused to shoot her. Price and two other members of a secret Belfast IRA unit, the 'Unknowns', then returned across the border and took Mrs McConville to the grave, where she was shot dead by one of them.

Price also repeats claims Mrs McConville was an informer and details an alleged incident in a west Belfast barracks where she identified IRA members to the security forces from behind a blanket with eye slits in it.

It is alleged that the suspects were in turn able to identify Mrs McConville from her slippers, which weren't hidden by the blanket.

Mrs McConville's children last night dismissed Price's claims that their mother was an informer and said the story about the barracks was "nonsense".

But they said they did accept parts of Price's testimony which were supported by other independent accounts.

Price had previously alleged that Gerry Adams ordered Mrs McConville's murder, a claim the former Sinn Fein president has strongly denied.

Price was found dead at her home in Malahide, Co Dublin, in 2013 from a toxic prescription drugs mix. The 61-year-old was the former wife of actor Stephen Rea, with whom she had two sons.

She was born into a staunchly republican family in Belfast. Along with her sister Marian, she joined the IRA as a teenager. Their father Albert was a prominent 1940s IRA man and their mother Chrissie had been in Cumann na mBan.

Along with Gerry Kelly, now a Sinn Fein MLA, the sisters were part of the IRA unit that bombed the Old Bailey in 1973. They were arrested making at Heathrow Airport.

The sisters were force-fed hundreds of times in Brixton Prison where they had gone on hunger strike as part of their campaign to be repatriated to Armagh Prison.

Before Dolours Price was arrested in London she had been a very active member of the Belfast IRA.

In I, Dolours, her videotaped interview with Moloney in Dublin in 2010 is interspersed by director Maurice Sweeney with historical re-enactments of her IRA career in which Price is played by an actress.

Price told Moloney that the Unknowns were selected on the basis that they "could be trusted with very specific jobs, obeying orders without question".

The unit was run by IRA man Pat McClure, who reported to the Belfast Brigade OC (officer commanding). One of Price's duties was to drive people the IRA believed were informers across the border to be killed.

She repeats the story that the IRA had discovered a radio transmitter in Mrs McConville's home, which she was allegedly using to supply information to the British Army. Price also told Moloney that IRA members arrested and taken to Hastings Street Barracks in the lower Falls were "identified by a person concealed behind a blanket" with eye slits.

But it "stopped short of her feet" and the republicans identified the informer as Mrs McConville, because they "recognised the slippers".

Price claims that under IRA interrogation Mrs McConville confessed to becoming an informer "for money".

A 2006 Police Ombudsman report found no evidence to suggest she was an informer.

Price says when she picked her up, Mrs McConville wasn't frightened for her life because she had been told by the IRA that she wouldn't be killed, but would be moved to another area by the Legion of Mary. Price realised Mrs McConville was a mother when she asked if her children could join her.

Price says the Dundalk IRA men had "a grave dug" but "couldn't bring themselves to execute" Mrs McConville "probably because she was a woman".

So Price, McClure (who died in the US in 1986) and a third member of the Unknowns - whom the Belfast Telegraph has been told is still alive - took Mrs McConville to the grave where she was "shot in the back of the head by one of the volunteers". There was one pistol but Price indicates the trio all fired it separately so they took shared responsibility for the execution and "no one would say that they for certain had been the person to kill her".

However, only one bullet was recovered and a post-mortem found Mrs McConville had died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Republican sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that Price and McClure fired to miss, but the third IRA member did not.

Asked how she felt about the IRA "disappearing" people, Price says: "I think it's a war crime."

She admits being haunted by her role in the deaths. "I think back on those who I had responsibility for driving away.

"I'm not a deeply religious person, but I would say a prayer for them," she states.

Mrs McConville's daughter Helen McKendry said: "During the dig for my mother in Shelling Hill beach, local republicans told us the Dundalk IRA had no part in our mother's murder. Dolours Price's account is in keeping with that.

"Her story about my mother at Hastings Street barracks is ridiculous. My mother was abducted from our home by the IRA, wearing slippers.

"But while we had very little money, my mother would never have gone out to a barracks or anywhere else in slippers. And what information would a mother-of-10 have had on the IRA anyway?"

Mrs McKendry said she was angry that the informer allegations persisted. "Repeating these claims about my mother is very hurtful. She died over 40 years ago and should be allowed to rest in peace. I don't think this film should have been made."

Mrs McConville's son Michael said: "There is some truth in what Dolours Price said, but other bits are fantasy.

"She was deeply troubled by her part in my mother's death and clearly needed help to deal with that.

"The story about my mother in the barracks makes no sense. When the IRA spoke to me, they told me my mother had given information which led to a gun being seized, but that was later proved to be untrue.

"The IRA never at any stage mentioned anything about a blanket in a barracks."

Mr McConville added: "I know the name of the person who killed my mother. It is not Dolours Price."

Belfast Telegraph

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