Seven facts about the unsolved murder of Jean McConville, shot by the IRA for something she didn't do
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Seven facts about the unsolved murder of Jean McConville, shot by the IRA for something she didn't do

1. A judge in Northern Ireland has ruled that veteran republican Ivor Bell will stand trial over his alleged involvement in the 1972 murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville, 37, who was shot dead by the Provisional IRA and secretly buried in Co. Louth in 1972.

Jean McConville Jean McConville

2. Jean Murray was born into a Protestant family in East Belfast but converted after marrying Arthur McConville, a Catholic former British Army soldier. After being intimidated out of a Protestant district at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland by loyalists in 1969, the McConville family moved to the republican Falls Road area of West Belfast. Her husband Arthur died from cancer in January 1972, leaving Mrs McConville a widow with 10 children.

3. Less than a year later she was dragged from her flat a by a large gang of male and female IRA members at gunpoint and driven to an unknown location over claims she was passing information to the British Army, which was later dismissed after an official investigation by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.

4. Eight of the children were taken into care, with the family split up and scattered to various homes and orphanages. Many of them had deeply disturbed childhoods, including Jean's orphaned son Billy who was sent to the notorious De La Salle Boys' Home in Co. Down where he was repeatedly sexually and physically abused.

Helen McKendry, eldest daughter of murdered woman Jean McConville, holds a family photograph showing her mother Jean McConville (L) and some of Jean's children including Helen herself (2R), at her home in Northern Ireland on May 3, 2014. (Getty)Helen McKendry, eldest daughter of  Jean McConville, holds a family photograph showing her mother J (L) and some of Jean's children including Helen, second right. (Picture: Getty)

5. The first formal investigation into her kidnapping appears to have taken place over 20 years after her death in 1995, when a team of RUC detectives was established to review the cases of all those who were thought to have been kidnapped during the Troubles. It would not be until 1998 after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that the IRA would accept responsibility for Jean McConville's killing.

6. In August 2003 Jean McConville's body was found by walkers on Shelling Hill beach in Co. Louth. She had been killed by a gunshot to the back of the head, there was no evidence of any other injuries. The discovery of her body brought some small element of closure to her family.

5. The 2005 Ombudsman's report concluded that the RUC did not investigate her death until 1995, when it carried out a minor investigation. It found no evidence that Mrs McConville had been an informer to the British, although the Provisional IRA issued a statement affirming that Jean McConville had been an informer at the time she was killed in 1972. The Police Ombudsman had no evidence to corroborate the claims.

6. In March and April 2014, the PSNI arrested a number of people over the kidnapping and killing of Jean McConville including Ivor Bell and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who has continuously denied any involvement in Jean McConnville's killing and insists he was never a member of the IRA. The arrests were made partly over claims made in a series of recorded testimonies from IRA and loyalist paramilitary veterans that form a historic archive about the armed campaigns of the Troubles. The Boston College Tapes were only to be released when each of the participants had died, but the caveat was overturned after the PSNI won a legal bid to gain access to them. Gerry Adams was released after four days of questioning by police without charge due to insufficient evidence.

7. Ivor Bell, 79, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast is charged with two counts of soliciting the murder of Mrs McConville in 1972. Bell is also charged with IRA membership. Six of Jean McConville's children were in the non-jury court yesterday to hear the decision. Ivor Bell, who denies the charges, was released on continuing bail. His bail conditions were amended, and he must now report to police once a week rather than twice. The case continues.