Northern Ireland

Jean McConville's daughter recalls mother's abduction by IRA

Jean McConville and family
Widow Jean McConville left behind 10 children when she was abducted and murdered

A daughter of Jean McConville has spoken for the first time in a BBC documentary about the IRA's abduction and murder of her mother.

The programme about the Disappeared also hears denials from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams that he ordered the disappearance of Mrs McConville.

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

Mrs McConville's body was found at a beach in County Louth in 2003.

One of her 10 children, Agnes, described her mother's abduction, which happened in 1972.

"We could hear her squealing, still squealing and looked over at the banister on Divis Flats (in west Belfast) and there she was getting thrown into the back of a van," she said.

"That was the last time that we saw her."

Agnes' brother Michael also recalled seeing his widowed mother being taken away.

"All of us were just wrapped around her, all crying and squealing," he said.

"I remember one of the girls (who abducted her) talking, who I knew because she hadn't got a mask on, she used to be a neighbour of ours, her and her sister were there.

"They kept trying to calm us down, because they knew us and they knew us by name."

'No part to play'

In the programme, Mr Adams is asked about allegations that he ordered the murder of Mrs McConville. He is also asked about his knowledge of the fate of two IRA men who also disappeared the same year.

"No, I had no act or part to play in either the abduction, the killing or the burial of Jean McConville or indeed any of these other individuals," he said.

"My focus is in trying to do what I can as an individual to bring those remaining bodies to the families who grieve them, who want a burial place to go to.

"Of course I regret, one wouldn't be a thinking, living human being if one didn't have regrets. All of us bear a responsibility, those of us who are in leadership, and I've never shirked that."

Although the remains of some of the Disappeared have been recovered, seven have never been found.

One of them is Columba McVeigh, a 19-year-old from Donaghmore in County Tyrone, who was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1975.

His sister, Dympna, told the programme: "I never did anything to the IRA, neither did my mum, so why are they torturing us? Thirty-eight years on and they're still torturing us and that's what it is. How would you feel if it was your brother?

"I've got an image in my head of Columba standing there crying, looking into a hole. Nobody got to say goodbye to him."

The first of the Disappeared to be found was north Belfast man Eamon Molloy, who was 21 when he was abducted and murdered in 1975.

His body was discovered in a coffin left at Faughart graveyard near Dundalk, County Louth, in 1999.

Mr Molloy's brother Martin told the documentary-makers a priest had told the family of Eamon's final moments.

The Disappeared is shown at 22:00 GMT on Tuesday 5 November on BBC Four.

You can watch a series of additional clips on the programme's website.

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