Jean McConville’s daughter 'will give names' involved in IRA killing as Gerry Adams spends second night in custody
Helen McKendry says she no longer fears reprisals by republicans for handing police the names of those she believes were responsible
IRA murder victim Jean McConville’s eldest daughter has said she is prepared to name those responsible for her mother’s death as police continue to question Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over his alleged involvement.
Forty-two years after the mother-of-10 was abducted from her flat in west Belfast, murdered and buried on a beach by the IRA, Helen McKendry has said she no longer feared reprisals by republicans.
“What are they going to do to me? They have done so much to me in the last 42 years,” she told BBC2's Newsnight. “Are they going to come and put a bullet in my head? Well they know where I live.”
Mrs McKendry has for decades demanded Mr Adams respond to questions about the events surrounding the murder and the allegation that he had been the group's leader in Belfast who ordered the abduction.
Mr Adams has consistently denied that he was involved in the murder or a member of the IRA. He spent a second night in police custody on Thursday night after voluntarily presenting himself for interview. Under anti-terrorism laws he must be charged or freed by Friday night, unless police seek a judicial extension to his interrogation.
“I'm hoping against hope that he doesn't walk out free,” Mrs McKendry said on Thursday.
“I have always believed that Gerry Adams was involved in the murder of my mother. Till the day I die, I will believe that,” she said.
Mrs McConville was dragged screaming from her home in the Divis flats by the IRA gang in 1972 after was wrongly accused of being a British informer. Her body was eventually found on a beach in Co Louth in 2003.
Mrs McKendry says her mother's Protestant upbringing in east Belfast - she moved to Catholic west Belfast after her marriage to the children's Catholic father - fueled irrational IRA suspicions. Northern Ireland's independent police complaints watchdog investigated the IRA's spying claims and cleared McConville's name in a 2006 report.
Mr McKendry said that she had already spoken to the police about her mother's killing although she had so far not named those she believed were responsible.
She said that eight men and four women had been in the flat the night her mother was taken. One of the women had not covered her face in any way. Asked if she was prepared to tell police their names, she said: “Yes, I am prepared.”
Mrs McKendry’s declared willingness to speak out is in contrast to her brother, Michael McConville, who said earlier that despite knowing the identities of those involve, he was not prepared to name them because of the consequences for his family.
“Everybody thinks that the IRA has gone away but they have not. If we tell we will be shot,” he said.
The police investigation of the McConville killing has accelerated since detectives last year received a number of taped interviews with veteran republicans recorded in a Boston College-commissioned oral history project.
While the republicans spoke openly on condition the audiotapes remained unpublished until their deaths, the Northern Ireland police sued for access to all of them after one of the interviewees, Brendan Hughes, died and his accusations against Adams were published and broadcast in 2010.
Boston College successfully fought to limit the handover to 11 interviews that explicitly mention the McConville killing. It isn't known whether any others back Mr Hughes' central accusation that it was Mr Adams who ordered the Mrs McConville's body be buried in an unmarked grave rather than put on public display in Belfast, as other IRA leaders had reportedly wanted.
Additional reporting from agencies
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