Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has announced today that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, as well as six other people including Sinn Féin’s northern chairman Bobby Storey, will not face charges over the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
The Belfast mother-of-10 was abducted by a gang of men and women under the assumption that she had been an informant. She was interrogated and then murdered before being buried in secret.
The PPS said in a statement that the decision came “following a careful consideration of all the available evidence”.
Outlining the decision today, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Pamela Atchison, said: “We have given careful consideration to the evidence currently available in respect of each of the three men and four women reported and have
concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any of them for a criminal offence.”
The evidence against the seven individuals arose from a number of different sources and included, in respect of some of those individuals, hearsay evidence provided by the American authorities from the Boston College Belfast Project. In considering the evidence, PPS addressed a range of offences directly and indirectly connected with the murder of Jean McConville.
There has already been a decision to prosecute an eighth individual, Ivor Bell, who was arrested and charged in March 2014 and is currently before the court. The decision is to prosecute Ivor Bell on charges of soliciting the murder of Jean
Ms Atchison added: “We have had a series of meetings with members of the family, most recently this morning, about all of our prosecutorial decisions and we will continue to engage with them as we progress the prosecution of Ivor Bell. We thank them for the positive way that they have engaged with us at each stage of the process.”
Reacting to today’s news, Gerry Adams said the decision was “long overdue” and repeated that he had “played no act or part in Jean McConville’s death.”
“I support the PSNI. But the timing of my arrest showed there remain elements within the PSNI who are against Sinn Féin. But they will not succeed.
“I voluntarily went to the PSNI last year after a concerted series of leaks claiming that I was about to be arrested. For some time I have been the target of a sustained and malicious campaign seeking to involve me with the killing of Mrs McConville.
“These claims have also been seized upon and repeated by my political opponents including the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fail Leader to score political points against Sinn Féin and me.
I want to encourage anyone with information to assist in the return of the bodies of those people killed and secretly buried by the IRA. I have worked with others towards this and I will continue to do so. I want to thank those who have come forward with such information.
I am also very conscious of the huge hurt inflicted on the McConville family. The abduction, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville was wrong.
Sinn Féin has agreed with others, through the Stormont House Agreement, processes for addressing the legacy of the past. We are committed to implementing them.
All political leaders have a duty to deal with the issue of victims in a compassionate, effective and transparent fashion.
Our focus must also be on building a better future and ensuring that there is no return to the past. That is the responsibility of all citizens as well as the political parties.
The two governments have a particular obligation to fulfil their responsibilities to build the peace and to implement all decisions which fall within their remits. Unfortunately they have not done so. There is an urgent imperative for them to correct this.
Sinn Fein, for our part will continue to honour all our commitments arising from the Stormont a House Agreement.”
[Image: Sinn Féin]