Gerry Adams ‘had Jean McConville disappeared’
Sunday Times – 28 March 2010
Brendan “Darkie” Hughes, a former commander of the IRA in Belfast, has claimed posthumously that Gerry Adams ordered the killing and burial of Jean McConville, the mother-of-10 shot dead by the IRA in 1972. He also suggested that Adams gave the order for the Provisional IRA to hang one of its own members in Long Kesh in June 1973 after the 22-year-old cracked under police questioning.
Hughes also boasted that he personally ran a personation campaign for Adams’s election as MP in west Belfast in 1987, and again in the council elections of 1989, stealing a “massive” number of votes.
The claims were made in a series of interviews Hughes gave to a researcher for Boston College in 2001 and 2002. He agreed to speak on condition that the material would not be published until after his death.
“I find it so difficult to come to terms [with] the fact that this man has turned his back on everything that we ever did,” Hughes said in an interview before he died in 2008.
“I never carried out a major [IRA] operation without the okay or the order from Gerry [Adams]. And for him to sit in his plush office in Westminster or Stormont or wherever and deny it, I mean it’s like Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust.”
Hughes’s interviews are contained in a new book, Voices From The Grave by journalist Ed Moloney, which is serialised exclusively in today’s Sunday Times.
Adams, the Sinn Fein president, has denied any involvement in the killing of McConville and being a member of the IRA. Asked last month if he was aware that the widowed Belfast woman was to be murdered and her body dumped, he said “No”.
Hughes revealed that he was deeply involved in the affair, one of the most high-profile killings of the Troubles. He said his unit found an army transmitter in McConville’s flat in Divis. Her family insists that the widow was not an informer, and that she was shot for going to the assistance of an injured soldier.
“She was an informer; she had a transmitter in her house. The British supplied the transmitter [to watch] the movements of IRA volunteers around Divis Flats at that time,” Hughes said. “I sent a squad over to the house to check it out and there was a transmitter. We retrieved [it], arrested her, took her away, interrogated her, and she told [us] what she was doing.”
Hughes said he wasn’t “on the scene at the time”, but insisted that his unit took possession of the transmitter and, because she was a woman, released McConville with a warning. He claimed that within a few weeks another army transmitter had been put in McConville’s flat.
“She was still co-operating with the British . . . getting paid by the British to pass on information. The squad was brought into operation then,” he said. “And she was arrested again and taken away.”
Hughes said he knew McConville was to be “executed” but didn’t know whether she was to be “disappeared” or her body left on the street. He claimed Ivor Bell, another IRA leader, argued for the body to be dumped in public, but was over-ruled.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” he said. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman — he did. And yet he went to see [McConville’s] kids to promise an investigation into her death.
“[Bell] argued, ‘if you are going to kill her, put her on the street. What’s the sense of killing her and burying her if no-one knows what she was killed for?’ ”
Asked if Adams had rejected this logic, Hughes replied: “He rejected it.” And ordered her to be disappeared, the interviewer asked. “To be buried. She was an informer.”
Hughes accused the Sinn Fein leader of getting into a position where he had to deny all of his IRA past. “It . . . appears that way,
Ironic isn’t it that this is the man who has been leading the charge for an Independent Truth Commission to uncover facts in the murders of innocent civilians by the British military and so called “security forces” working in collaboration with them. The fact is that none of the participants in the “Troubles” are completely without sin. Atrocities were committed by all of them. The truth should also apply to all of them.