Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 15:31 UK

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams denies McConville death claims

Jean McConville was abducted and murdered in 1972
Jean McConville was abducted and murdered in 1972

Gerry Adams has again denied having "any hand or part in the killing and disappearing" of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972.

A new book by journalist Ed Moloney, claims the Sinn Fein president ordered the killing and secret burial.

Helen McKendry, one of Mrs McConville's daughters, has said she plans a civil action against Mr Adams over his alleged role in her mother's murder.

"It is not for money. It is for my mother," she said.

"I want to get the real truth.

"Gerry Adams has to come out and tell people the truth. It is not just my family. It is everybody that was disappeared, that was hurt, killed or whatever during the whole Troubles in Northern Ireland. He needs to tell the truth."

In a statement on Monday, Mr Adams said he "rejected absolutely" any accusation he had a role in her murder "or in any of the other allegations" made in the book, Voices from the Grave.

"The issue of the disappeared is a terrible legacy of the conflict," he said.

"A grievous wrong has been done to these families. Republicans working with the Commission (set up to find the remains of the Disappeared) have being trying to right this wrong for some years.

"The proposal to do this was initiated by me after I was approached by some of the families involved."

The claims were made by a former IRA commander in Belfast, Brendan Hughes, who died in 2008.

Mr Adams has consistently denied claims that he was involved in the murder of Mrs McConville.

Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes in the 1970s
Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes were interned in the Maze

He said that Mr Hughes had opposed the IRA cease-fire and the peace process as was "his right", but that he had known him well.

"He wasn't well and hadn't been for a very long time, including during the time he did these interviews," he said.

"He also carried with him an enormous sense of guilt over events surrounding the first hunger strike. However, that is no excuse for his involvement in this book."

But Mr Moloney said that what Brendan Hughes had done in giving the interviews was, tell "the unvarnished truth" which was "unprecedented in IRA annals".

The IRA has admitted killing and burying Jean McConville, whose body was only found in 2003.

The allegations against Mr Adams, and others, were made in a series of interviews Mr Hughes gave to a researcher for Boston College in 2001 and 2002. He spoke on condition that the material would not be published until after his death.

Mrs McConville lived with her children in Belfast in the early 1970s.

The 37-year-old was taken from her Divis home by IRA members after being accused of being an informer. She was interrogated, shot and secretly buried in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland.

Her family have rejected claims that she was an informer. In 2006 an investigation by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan found no evidence that Mrs McConville had passed information to the security forces.

Helen McKendry
Helen McKendry plans to take legal action against Gerry Adams

In the book, extracts of which were published in the Sunday Times, Mr Hughes said that an Army transmitter was removed from her flat by an IRA team.

He said he helped in her interrogation and she admitted she was working for the British Army.

But because she was a mother and a widow, she was given a warning.

However, a second transmitter was later found and she was taken away to be killed.

"The problem with this story was that Jean McConville was a widow, she was a woman, she had 10 children, what would the public reaction be?" Mr Moloney said.

"It was decided after much argument and dispute within the high reaches of the Belfast brigade staff that the way to handle Jean McConville was to kill her and let no-one know this happened."

Mr Hughes claimed there was an argument between Mr Adams and his deputy about this.

"It was reckoned by Gerry Adams that the public relations downside of her body being found justified disappearing her in that way," Mr Moloney said.

He said Hughes later described the killing as "utterly pointless and brutal".

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17 Feb 08 |  Northern Ireland

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