Northern Ireland news

Tributes to son of IRA victim Jean McConville following his death

Archie McConville, son of IRA victim Jean McConville, has died aged 65. Picture by Cliff Donaldson.
Paul Ainsworth

A son of IRA victim Jean McConville - who was the last family member to see his mother alive - has died aged 65.

Archie McConville was last night remembered for his steadfast support of other families of 'the Disappeared', despite his own trauma.

He was just 16 years old when members of the Provisional IRA abducted his mother from their Divis Towers home in west Belfast in December 1972.

The mother-of-10 had been accused of passing information to security services and was taken across the border to be murdered, although the Police Ombudsman later said there was no evidence she was an informant.

She became one of the most prominent of the Troubles victims referred to as the Disappeared, and her body was only recovered in 2003 from a beach in Co Louth.

Jean McConnville, the west Belfast mother-of-10 abducted and killed by the IRA in 1972.

A post-mortem found the 37-year-old had been killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head.

Archie, whose death comes after a short illness, is the third of Mrs McConville's children to die in recent years, following the passing of his brother Billy from cancer in 2017, while in 2019 his sister Agnes also died following a battle with cancer.

He is survived by wife Liz and their four children, and his funeral will be held today at St Luke's Church in Twinbrook.

Mr Conville was described as an "active member" of the WAVE Trauma Centre's 'Families of the Disappeared' group, where he assisted others who faced similar tragedy in their lives at the hands of paramilitaries.

WAVE CEO Sandra Peake said: "Like other members of the McConville family, Archie had to live with the most profound trauma imaginable.

"For Archie, the thought that he was the last member of the family to see their mother alive and the realisation that there was nothing he could do to prevent her being taken away was the source of a particular grief and pain that was with him every hour of his life from then on."

Dympna Kerr, sister of Co Tyrone teenager Columba McVeigh whose body has never been recovered after he was abducted by the IRA in 1975, praised him for helping her family with their trauma.

"At every Families of the Disappeared event Archie would be there to offer support to the others," she said.

"He was a quiet man but with a dry sense of humour who enjoyed the craic and everyone who was in his company always felt better for it."

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