You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2014.

Belfast Telegraph
27 March 2014

Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006

Police in Ireland have been accused of stringing along a coroner and the family of murdered IRA spy Denis Donaldson with bogus claims.

As the eighth anniversary of his killing at a remote famine cottage in Co Donegal approaches next week, lawyers for the family there is no bona fide reason for an inquest into his death not to go ahead.

In a statement issued through their legal team, the Donaldson family said their treatment is consistent with a series of scandals to hit the Garda force over the last few months and claimed some people involved in the controversies have had direct involvement with their case.

” The gardai are now stringing along the coroner’s court and the family with bogus claims and a flagrant disregard for European Court of Human Rights obligations,” they said.

“The effectiveness and independence of the investigatory process, and the completed Garda investigation, has lost any credibility,” they said.

Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Fein official and close colleague of party president Gerry Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in April 2006.

He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.

The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder three years later but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson’s outing and subsequent assassination have been shrouded in mystery.

The family said they have no faith in the Gardai and refused to attend the latest preliminary hearing of the inquest, the 13th since the killing.

“From the outset the Donaldson family have implored Gardai to rigorously investigate the role played by state agencies in the circumstances surrounding the exposure and killing of Denis,” they said.

“Throughout that time, Gardai have refused to probe these concerns and admitted to the family that they closed the file on Denis’s death without interviewing those members of Special Branch who were actively involved in events leading up to Denis’ killing.”

The Donaldson family said that at previous hearings they have heard explicit assurances that no further time would be required by either gardai or the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the case.

The family claims lawyers for the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have consistently contested their attempts to have the inquest heard.

They have instructed their legal team to take a lawsuit over what they claim are ongoing infringements of the human rights of the Donaldson family.

In November 2012 the inquest was told a file on the murder had been submitted to the DPP and a d ecision on a prosecution was expected within four months but no-one has been charged. Several arrests have been made.

Advertisements

Suzanne Breen
Independent.ie
24 March 2014

Sources close to the investigation said it was “far from over” and that detectives want more information on anyone suspected of involvement in the murder, including Mr Adams.

The Sinn Fein president strongly denies any involvement in the Belfast mother of 10’s abduction and death in 1972.

The PSNI is also seeking to question former IRA man turned writer Anthony McIntyre about his Boston College interviews with ex-Provisionals on Ms McConville’s murder.

As the interviewer for the US university’s oral history project, Mr McIntyre’s evidence would be crucial in the case against Bell – and any other alleged former IRA leaders who may in future be charged with involvement.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard on Saturday that Bell was an interviewee in one of the tapes and was known as ‘Man Z’ – something which Bell denies.

The 77-year-old is charged with IRA membership and aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville.

Other alleged former IRA members are expected to be arrested in coming weeks by detectives – who have in their possession tapes of seven republicans, who are all still alive, allegedly discussing the McConville killing.

TAPE

It is understood the PSNI wants to question Mr McIntyre about Bell’s alleged interview and the conditions in which it took place, in order to corroborate the claims allegedly made on the tape.

Mr McIntyre would also be quizzed as to whether Bell was ‘Man Z’.

However, sources said there were “absolutely no circumstances” in which Mr McIntyre would co-operate with police.

Refusal to do so could result in him facing charges of withholding information – but the sources said he would “go to jail rather than compromise source protection”.

Mr McIntyre is a member of the National Union of Journalists and the issue is to be raised with the union this week.

The ex-IRA man has previously said he has “every sympathy with the McConville family in their search for truth recovery” – but added that “journalists, academics, and researchers need protection if they are to gain the necessary information which offers a valuable insight into the past”.

As the lead researcher for the Belfast project for Boston College between 2001 and 2006, Mr McIntyre conducted over 170 interviews with 26 republicans. They were undertaken on the agreement that they wouldn’t be released until after the interviewee’s death.

Tapes of now-deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – who both accused Gerry Adams of ordering Jean McConville’s murder – were handed over to the PSNI by Boston College.

However, a major legal battle followed over the taped interviews of republicans who are still alive.

Ivor Bell (77) refused bail on charges relating to 1972 murder of Jean McConville

Irish Times
22 March 2014

The police case against a veteran republican charged in connection with the notorious IRA murder of Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at a US college, a court has heard.

The claim was made as Ivor Bell (77) was refused bail and remanded in custody by a district judge in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

Boston College interviewed a number of former paramilitaries about the Troubles on the understanding transcripts would not be published until after their deaths.

But that undertaking was rendered ineffective when a US court last year ordered that the tapes be handed over to PSNI detectives.

The interviews included claims about the murder of Mrs McConville, who was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

Applying for bail, Peter Corrigan, representing Bell, told district judge Amanda Henderson that the prosecution case was that an interviewee on one of the Boston tapes, referred to only as ‘Z ’, was his client.

But the solicitor insisted the person interviewed on the tape had denied any involvement in the murder.

“During those interviews Z explicitly states that he was not involved with the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Mr Corrigan also questioned the evidential value of the interviews, pointing out that they had not been conducted by trained police officers.

“The defence submits that the evidence does not amount to a row of beans in relation to the murder of Jean McConville,” he said.

Grey-haired moustachioed Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast, sat impassively in the dock wearing a grey jumper as his lawyer made the claims.

Some of Mrs McConville’s children watched on from the public gallery.

A PSNI detective inspector, who earlier told the judge he could connect the accused with the charges, rejected Mr Corrigan’s interpretation of the Boston College interview.

He claimed the transcript actually indicated Bell had “played a critical role in the aiding, abetting, counsel and procurement of the murder of Jean McConville”.

The officer said he opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant would likely flee the jurisdiction. He revealed that he had previously used an alias to travel to Spain and predicted he could use contacts within the IRA to travel beyond Northern Ireland.

But Mr Corrigan said that was out of the question, noting that his client suffered from a range of serious medical conditions, that his family was based in Belfast and that he had “every incentive” to stay in Northern Ireland to prove his innocence.

“Are the prosecution seriously suggesting that a man in this serious ill health, who can’t walk up steps, is going to abscond for an offence where he has every incentive to attend court?” he said.

Judge Henderson said the case was a very “significant and sensitive” one and praised those in court for acting with dignity through the hearing.

She said she was more convinced with the argument the prosecution had made.

“I am persuaded by the prosecution in this case and on that basis I am refusing bail,” she said.

Bell was remanded in custody to appear before court again next month.

He waved to supporters in the public gallery as he was led out of the dock.

Mrs McConville was dragged away from her children by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in Belfast.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the allegations.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home.

The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to gardaí.

She became one of the so-called Disappeared, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

After the hearing Mrs McConville’s son Michael said the family’s thoughts were with their mother.

“The pain of losing her has not diminished over the decades since she was taken from us murdered and secretly buried,” he said.

“She is in our hearts and our thoughts always. Whatever the future holds nothing will ever change that”.

Ivor Bell appears in court over 1972 murder of Jean McConville, in case which could implicate senior Irish republicans

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
22 March 2014

Even two decades after the IRA ceasefire, it is a crime from the bloodiest year of the Troubles that continues to haunt senior Irish republicans including Gerry Adams and could yet have fresh ramifications for the peace process.

In a sensational development inside a Belfast court it was alleged that a former IRA negotiator with the British government named fellow republicans involved in the kidnap, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville – one of the most notorious murders of the conflict.

The ex-IRA commander Ivor Bell appeared in Laganside court on Saturday morning where he faced charges of aiding and abetting in the shooting and disappearance of the mother of 10 in 1972.

Ivor Bell (BBC image)

The children and grandchildren of the murdered widow were in court to hear a detective allege that Bell was “Mr Z” on a tape recorded for Boston College in the US as part of the Belfast Project, a series of interviews with former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries.

Speaking outside the court, McConville’s daughter Helen McKendry told The Observer that she hoped the case would lead to others going on trial for her mother’s killing by the IRA.

“I hope this goes all the way up to the top,” she said, “All the way up to Gerry Adams. There are more people who need to be in this court to answer what happened to my mother.”

The McConville family, along with the former IRA Belfast commanding officer Brendan Hughes, have alleged that Adams created a secret unit to hunt down and kill informers in the city during the early part of the Troubles.

Before his death Hughes claimed that Adams gave the order for McConville to be abducted from her home in Divis Flats in west Belfast, taken across the Irish border, killed and buried in secret.

The Sinn Féin president has always denied any involvement in the McConville murder or that he was ever in the IRA.

It was alleged in court that in the recording, Bell implicates himself and other top republicans in the McConville case.

But his defence solicitor, Peter Corrigan, denied Bell had any involvement in the crime and said “the evidence was not credible”.

The recording for the Belfast Project, which the Police Service of Northern Ireland obtained through the US courts, is the centrepiece of the crown’s case against Bell.

His solicitor said Bell denied any involvement in the IRA murder of McConville.

Appealing for bail for his client, Corrigan stressed that Bell has not been a member of the Provisional IRA since 1985 and had no network around him to aid him to flee Northern Ireland. He told the judge that they would accept “any conditions that you see fit to impose on this defendant”.

However, there was light applause from the McConville family in court when the judge, Fiona Bagnall, refused bail.

McConville was the most famous of the “Disappeared” – 16 people whom the IRA accused of being informers and who were shot and buried secretly across Ireland.

The IRA only admitted her murder in 1993 and her body was not discovered until 2003 on a beach in County Louth. No one until today has ever been charged in connection with her murder.

The IRA accused her of passing information to the British army but her family always denied this, claiming she was singled out because she had tended to a wounded soldier outside her flat.

An investigation by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman rejected the allegation she was an informer.

Bell was a senior IRA officer at the time McConville was seized by armed men and women, and torn away from her children in December 1972.

Six months earlier Bell was part of an IRA delegation that secretly met Willie Whitelaw and several British government officials at the late MP Paul Channon’s flat in London.

Bell, allegedly alongside Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the future deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, met Whitelaw and his team to discuss a ceasefire. However, the truce later broke down amid ongoing violence in Belfast.

Bell was later expelled from the IRA for plotting a coup d’etat against its leadership in the mid-1980s and warned he would be “executed” if he set up a rival republican organisation.

The full trial against the veteran republican will begin on 11 April.

Kildare Nationalist
21 March 2014

Ivor Bell in 1983 when he was released after Supergrass, Robert Lean, withdrew evidence against 11 men (Photo: Belfast Telegraph)

A veteran republican has been charged in connection with the IRA murder more than 40 years ago of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville.

Ivor Bell, 77, is due to appear in court in Belfast tomorrow accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

He was detained at his home in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast on Tuesday.

Mrs McConville, 37, was abducted by the IRA at her home at Divis Flats, Belfast in December 1972, shot dead and then secretly buried.

He murder is one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles.

She was dragged away from her children by a IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused her of passing information to the British Army in Belfast at the time

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the allegations.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home. The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to police in the Republic.

She became one of the so-called Disappeared, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

Bell was among of a delegation of republicans, which included Gerry Adams, now the Sinn Féin president, and Martin McGuinness, the North’s Deputy First Minister and a former IRA commander in Derry who were flown by the RAF to London to have ceasefire talks with British ministers in 1972.

But the truce collapsed within days.

77-year-old held by detectives investigating IRA’s kidnapping, killing and secret burial of Belfast widow Jean McConville

Henry McDonald
Guardian
18 Mar 2014

A former IRA chief of staff and negotiator for the Provisionals with the British government in 1972 is in custody tonight being questioned about the murder and disappearance of a widow whose death in the same year left 10 children orphaned.

West Belfast republican Ivor Bell was arrested in the city earlier today in connection with one of the most controversial murders of the early years of the Northern Ireland Troubles – the case of “disappeared” mother of 10 Jean McConville. The 77-year-old was detained in the city earlier today by detectives investigating the IRA’s kidnapping, killing and secret burial of the Belfast woman in 1972.

Bell was part of an IRA delegation that met William Whitelaw at future Tory minister Paul Channon’s flat in London six months before McConville’s disappearance.

He and other IRA leaders were trying to negotiate a ceasefire with the British which broke down in the summer of 1972. The republican veteran went on to become a leading figure in the Provisionals but was later sentenced to death by the organisation for allegedly trying to stage a coup d’etat against Gerry Adams in the early 1980s because he became convinced the then West Belfast Sinn Féin MP and others around him were determined to “run down the war” and abandon armed struggle. Since his departure from the IRA, Bell has kept a low profile and effectively bowed out of republican politics.

Jean McConville became one of the most famous of the “disappeared” and her body was not found until 2003 on a beach in Co Louth.

Ex-IRA Belfast commander Brendan Hughes has accused Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, of organising a secret unit which abducted and murdered McConville. The unit was charged with smoking out informers for the British within nationalist-republican areas and in most cases killing them and burying their bodies in secret. Adams has always denied the charge from his former friend and also insisted he was never in the IRA. Hughes made his allegation about Adams on tapes for a Boston College academic project in which ex-IRA and loyalist paramilitaries would speak frankly about their roles in the conflict but which would be released only when they died.

The man arrested today is being questioned at the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s serious crimes suite in Antrim Police station. In 1999, the IRA admitted that it murdered and buried at secret locations nine of the Disappeared.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains was established in 1999 by a treaty between the British and Irish governments, which gave de facto amnesties for any IRA members who had knowledge about the whereabouts of the missing to come forward without fear of prosecution. It lists 16 people as “disappeared”. Despite extensive searches, the remains of seven of them have not been found.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

Calendar

March 2014
S M T W T F S
« Feb   Apr »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

A note about Archives

For March-Sept. 2007 click here:

March - Sept 2007

All other months and years are below.

'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands