Northern Ireland

Almost £18K raised in fund to sue Sinn Féin over Jean McConville's unlawful killing

Jean McConville with three of her children shortly before she disappeared on December 7 1972
Jean McConville with three of her children shortly before she disappeared on December 7 1972

MEMBERS of Jean McConville’s family are moving ahead with a plan to sue Sinn Féin it has emerged on the 50th anniversary of her abduction and murder.

Her daughter Helen McKendry and son-in-law Seamus have raised nearly £18,000 as part of their plan to sue the party over her unlawful killing by the Provisional IRA.

Mrs McConville, a widowed mother-of-ten, was abducted from her Divis Flats on December 7 1972.

An IRA gang is believed to have driven her directly to the border area.

After being interrogated over claims of collaboration with the British Army, denied by her family, the 37-year-old was killed and her body buried on a beach near Carlingford, Co Louth.

The body was not found until 2003 and only after the IRA was forced to admit they were involved in her abduction and murder in the face of a high-profile campaign by the McConville family and others under the umbrella of the Families of the Disappeared.

Her daughter Helen and son-in-law Seamus are continuing their pursuit of Sinn Féin, claiming it and veteran party members' links to the IRA deem it liable for her abduction and death.

Former IRA leader Ivor Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was cleared of soliciting her murder, the only person charged in connection with her killing.

Long time Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was called as a defence witness and forced to deny any involvement in Mrs McConville's death.

"I categorically deny any involvement in the abduction, killing and burial of Jean McConville, or indeed any others," Mr Adams told Belfast Crown Court.

He also repeatedly rejected allegations he was a member of the IRA's Belfast Brigade when Ms McConville was murdered. He further denied being at an IRA meeting in December 1972, during which her fate was discussed.

The case against 82-year-old Mr Bell was based on alleged admissions made to a Boston College oral history project. These were heard in public for the first time during the legal action.

Mr and Mrs McKendry are continuing a fundraising campaign to raise money for a legal action over Mrs McConville's death.

On their GoFundMe page, Ms McKendry said her mother was "taken from my life - abducted, tortured and murdered - her battered body secretly hidden for 31 years until accidentally discovered by a stranger".

"Myself and my nine siblings, the youngest being six-year-old twins were left destitute and terrified having also lost our father just eleven months previous," she wrote.

"Mum's grotesque murder and disappearance was carried out by IRA thugs, masquerading as freedom fighters who claimed that my mother, who knew nothing of their activities, had passed on information to the security forces."

This was, she added, a "ludicrous farce to justify the barbarity".

"With mums death I lost everything - childhood, safety, education and my dreams of becoming a midwife, a career I dreamed of," Ms McKendry wrote.

"I believe the IRA should be forced to atone for their heinous deed and I aspire to establish a fighting fund whereby I might sue Sinn Féin /IRA for reparations for all that I have lost - especially my mother's love."