Social services ‘wrongly believed IRA victim had abandoned her children’

By Michael McHugh, PA

Social services wrongly believed IRA abduction victim Jean McConville had “abandoned” her children, her son said.

Michael McConville wants a public inquiry after he was “let down” by child carers, the church, and police he accused of failing to properly investigate his mother’s disappearance.

Her orphaned offspring were not offered counselling, despite having to watch their mother being forced from their west Belfast home in December 1972.

The Provisionals wrongly believed the mother-of-10 was passing on information to the state.

Mr McConville said the trauma from the kidnapping when he was 11 was neverending.

“It is something that will never leave us for the rest of our lives, we are stuck with it every day.

“When we were being put into care one of the social workers turned round and said we were abandoned children.”

He added: “It is a smear on her name.”

She was taken across the border to the Republic, badly beaten and shot in the back of the head.

Her remains were found by a walker in August 2003 on a beach in Co Louth and Mr McConville said forensic opportunities were lost by Irish police.

The case was part of a special investigation established to find the remains of those taken by the IRA and known as the Disappeared.

A condition of that team’s work was that it did not gather forensic information useful to a criminal investigation, to encourage witnesses to come forward.

Ms McConville was found by a walker rather than during a search organised by the investigation; the scene could have been checked for opportunities for prosecution, but was not.

Mr McConville said the information collected by police following the abduction stretched to only two pages.

Jean McConville’s remains were found on a beach in Co Louth (PA)

“They did not think the kidnapping of my mother was important.”

Ivor Bell was recently found not guilty of involvement in the murder, after recordings of him during an oral history project were deemed inadmissible by the court.

Mr McConville wants a public inquiry into his mother’s murder, focusing on alleged lack of support by social services and questions surrounding the Catholic church.

He said he would like to see a judge from outside Northern Ireland leading such a probe.

He added: “We have been let down by everyone.

“We have been let down by the British Government, the Irish Government, let down by the gardai in recent years.”

Former police ombudsman Dame Nuala O’Loan published a report in 2006 which confirmed that police did not investigate her disappearance for 20 years.

Mr McConville said: “As a family we want the truth, we have been told lies from 1972 to the present day.”