Jean McConville: Belfast republican Ivor Bell refused bail

Widow Jean McConville left behind 10 children, as Chris Buckler reports

An alleged former senior IRA member charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville has been refused bail.

The Belfast mother-of-10 was taken from her flat by the IRA in December 1972.

Ivor Bell, 77, alleged to have been a senior member in the Provisional IRA in the 1970s, was arrested at his home in west Belfast, on Tuesday.

He was refused bail on Saturday after a police officer told the court there was a high risk of him absconding.

A solicitor for Mr Bell told Belfast Magistrates Court his client was not involved in the murder of Jean McConville.

He said the case against him was based on the Boston College tapes and "the evidence was not credible".

Ivor Bell was refused bail on Saturday Ivor Bell was refused bail on Saturday

A police officer, however, said the evidence pointed to Ivor Bell playing a critical role in aiding and abetting in the murder of Mrs McConville.

He said Mr Bell was a frail 77-year-old grandfather who had suffered two heart attacks in recent years as well as having neck and bowel problems.

Mrs McConville, 37, became known as one of the Disappeared.

Children and grandchildren of mother-of-ten Jean McConville were in court to see Ivor Bell charged in connection with her murder.

They sat silently at the side of the courtroom and stared at the accused.

Friends and family of 77-year-old Ivor Bell were also there.

The court was told he was a frail grandfather who had suffered two recent heart attacks and had arthritis.

He did not speak in court, but nodded his head to confirm he understood the charges against him.

At the end of the 40-minute hearing, the judge thanked everyone for their dignified silence during proceedings.

She was kidnapped in front of her children after being accused of having been an informer - a claim that was later dismissed following an official investigation by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman

She was held at one or more houses before being shot and buried in secret. Her body was eventually recovered on a beach in County Louth in August 2003.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder.

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

The IRA admitted in 1999 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.

It lists 16 people as "disappeared". Despite extensive searches, the remains of seven of them have not been found.

Mr Bell was part of an IRA delegation, which also included Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, that held secret talks with the British government in London in 1972.

The Boston College tapes are a series of candid, confessional interviews with former loyalist and republican paramilitaries, designed to be an oral history of the Troubles.

The paramilitaries were told the tapes would only be made public after their deaths. However, after a series of court cases in the United States, some of the content has been handed over to the authorities.

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