Readers will know that I am interested in the subject of post-Good Friday agreement ‘justice’ in Northern Ireland. Having been one of the few people to have followed the possibilities of justice over Bloody Sunday, I also recently wrote about the apparently one-sided amnesties which the last Labour government appears to have given to Republicans not convicted of crimes but counted as ‘on the run‘. It has long been my contention that justice cannot only be applied to one side or one group of people. Investigate the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment for what happened in January 1972 and you have to investigate the leadership of Sinn Fein – IRA for their activities.
So it is interesting to note that police in Belfast have arrested and released another man for the murder of Jean McConville in 1972. This follows the arrest and charging last month of former IRA chief Ivor Bell for his alleged involvement in the murder.
The killing – and ‘disappearing’ – of McConville remains one of the most disturbing cases of the Troubles. The 37-year old widow and mother of ten children was abducted by the IRA in front of her children. Her body – she had been shot in the back of the head – was only literally stumbled upon in 2003, fifty miles from her home, in County Louth.
In the criminal inquiry one of McConville’s children has said that Gerry Adams should be arrested and questioned. Indeed he should. The claim that Adams ordered the abduction and execution of McConville has been in circulation for years. Adams himself of course denies any involvement and has volunteered to help police with their inquiries. But the deceased Belfast IRA commander Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes among others has claimed that Adams was behind this atrocious crime.
Of course these days, along with Martin McGuinness, Adams likes to frequent distinguished gatherings, mingle with great statesmen, pose for Hello magazine style photo shoots and so on. Adams’s newly cuddly public image is inevitably tainted by questions about the death of Jean McConville.
There are not many examples of justice after such a long period of time. But it would be good if, after all these years, we were to know the truth about Adams’s involvement or otherwise in the murder of Jean McConville and the lifetimes of suffering her ‘disappearance’ left behind.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.