Northern Ireland

Jean McConville murder: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will not face Disappeared charges

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Media captionPamela Atchison of the PPS made the announcement on Tuesday

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will not face charges in connection with the IRA murder of Jean McConville, the Public Prosecution Service has confirmed.

Six other people, including Bobby Storey, Sinn Féin's northern chairman, will also not face charges linked to the 1972 killing.

Jean McConville, 37, a widow, was abducted from her west Belfast home, shot and secretly buried.

Mr Adams said the decision was "long overdue".

"There was never any real basis for questioning me in respect of this case. I played no act or part in Jean McConville's death," he said.

Mrs McConville was one of the Disappeared. Nobody has ever been charged with her murder. Her son, Michael, has pledged to continue to seek justice for his mother.

Image caption Gerry Adams will not be charged with IRA membership

The Disappeared were people who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles. Jean McConville's case has been one of the most high profile.

Her body was found on a beach in County Louth in 2003.

Who was Jean McConville?

Who were the Disappeared?

It emerged on Tuesday, that Mr Adams would not be charged with IRA membership either.

Analysis: BBC NI home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney

The seven people the PPS has said will not face any charges in connection with the murder of Jean McConville fall into two groups.

In the first group are four women, who it was alleged had been involved in the abduction of the mother-of-10 from her home.

It is understood that police were not able to obtain any evidence from witnesses at the scene to support claims that they had been involved, so there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

The second group consisted of Gerry Adams, Bobby Storey and an unnamed man.

The evidence against them was based on interviews given by three other republicans to researchers working on a history project for Boston College.

Mr Adams was questioned about allegations that he ordered the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

It was alleged that Bobby Storey, the northern chairman of Sinn Féin, led an internal IRA investigation in the late 1990s into the circumstances of the killing.

The claims made in those interviews are referred to legally as hearsay.

The PPS could not find any other independent evidence to support the claims, so concluded that what it calls its "test for prosecution" had not been met.

The 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."

She also spoke about Mrs McConville's family.

"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."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10, was abducted and murdered by the IRA in December 1972

Veteran republican Ivor Bell, 78, has been charged with aiding and abetting Mrs McConville's murder.

Speaking after meeting the Public Prosecution Service on Tuesday, Mrs McConville's son, Michael, said: "Those who ordered, planned and carried out this war crime thought that their guilt could disappear along with her body.

"But it has not, and we will continue to seek justice for our mother and see those responsible held to account no matter how long it takes".

In May 2014, Mr Adams presented himself at a police station and was subsequently arrested for questioning about her murder.

Image caption Bobby Storey, Sinn Féin's northern chairman, will also not face charges linked to the 1972 killing

He was released after four days and said there had been "a sustained, malicious, untruthful campaign" alleging that he had been involved in the killing.

His party also criticised the decision to hold him, claiming that it was politically motivated, coming weeks before the European and local government elections.

In response to the decision not to prosecute him, Mr Adams said: "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."

He added that he was "very conscious" of the huge hurt inflicted on the McConville family.

"The abduction, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville was wrong," he said.

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