14/08/2006

Ombudsman's report on McConville murder

The Police Ombudsman has today revealed that the investigation into a complaint from the family of IRA murder victim Jean McConville has concluded that police did not conduct an investigation into her disappearance for more than 20 years.

The investigation has also revealed that police had received information from military sources which suggested that the abduction, was a hoax and that Mrs McConville was known to be safe and well.

Jean McConville, a widow with ten children, was abducted from her home at Divis Flats in west Belfast by the IRA in December 1972 and murdered.

In 1995, an RUC team was established to review the cases of 'the disappeared,' and in

March 1999, the IRA admitted to having killed a number of people, including Mrs McConville alleging that she was a British Army Informer.

Her body was found on Shelling Hill Beach at Carlingford in County Louth on August 26 2003.

She had been shot in the head.

The Ombudsman's investigation established that there was no formal police record of Mrs McConville's disappearance nor any investigation at that time to try and find her, however an examination of RUC intelligence files showed that the first intelligence was received on January 2 1973 when police received two pieces of information which said that the Provisional IRA had abducted Mrs McConville.

One claimed that Mrs McConville was being held by the Provisional IRA in Dundalk, while the other also alleged that the Provisionals were behind the abduction and suggested it was related to drug dealing.

The RUC intelligence files also show that the police later received two separate pieces of information from military sources which suggested that Mrs McConville was not missing:

The first was received on March 13 1973 and suggested that the abduction was an elaborate hoax.

The second, which was received on March 24, said that Mrs McConville had left of her own free will and was known to be safe.

Police Ombudsman investigators have also spoken to Retired Detective Sergeant E, who worked on the 1995 RUC review of the case. He said he had spoken to several colleagues who worked in the area in 1972 but none of them could recall an investigation into Mrs McConville's disappearance.

The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan today said she has upheld the complaint that police did not properly investigate Mrs McConville's disappearance at this stage.

She said: “Whether Mrs McConville's son reported his mother's disappearance on December 7 or not, we have evidence that by January 2 police were aware that the mother of ten was missing.

“By January 16 a spokesman was being quoted as saying the matter was being investigated but we have found no evidence of this. There is no crime file about any investigation of the abduction in 1972.”

Mrs O'Loan continued: “Even if we look at the intelligence the police received which suggested that Mrs McConville was alive and had either left of her own will or was being held by the Provisionals in Dundalk, we found no evidence that either of these issues were looked at. An Garda Siochana have said they are not aware of an investigation by them into Mrs McConville's death prior to the discovery of her body.”

Earlier this month the Police Ombudsman made a public statement that her investigation had found no evidence Mrs McConville had been an informant and had not been passing information to the police, the Army or the Security Services.

The investigation has also raised questions about the long held view that Mrs McConville may have been killed because she aided a wounded soldier, stating that there were no records of anyone being shot in the area until eight days after her abduction.

(EF)


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