This could be the closest we get to justice, says Jean McConville’s family

The family of Jean McConville has said a not guilty verdict against a veteran republican may be the closest they ever get to justice.

Ivor Bell was acquitted of two charges of soliciting the murder of the widowed mother of 10 in 1972 after a trial of the facts at Belfast Crown Court.

Mrs McConville was taken from her west Belfast home by masked IRA members before being murdered and secretly buried.

Jean McConville murder
Jean McConville (PA)

Television footage from the time showed her 10 orphaned children – aged six to 16 – alone in the family’s flat at St Jude’s Walk in the Divis Flats complex. They were later placed into care.

The IRA admitted the murder in 1999.

Mrs McConville’s remains were found by a member of the public on a beach in Co Louth in 2003, but no one has ever been convicted of her murder.

Five of Mrs McConville’s seven surviving children – Archie, Michael, Thomas (Tucker), Susan and Jim – attended every day of the eight-day trial of the facts.

Speaking outside court, Michael said: “We want to see a public inquiry, we are going to chase that.

Michael McConville
Michael McConville (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We would also like to see the Secretary of State. We have been neglected by everyone since this has happened. We have had many doors closed on us, we have walked many a road. Today is the closest I think we are ever going to get to justice.”

His sister Susan Townsley was tearful as she said the siblings would stick together.

“This is the only thing we are going to get, at the end of the day,” she said.

“As a family we are just going to have to stick together. It has been very hard on all of us.”

Susan McConville
Susan McConville (Brian Lawless/PA)

When the IRA admitted Mrs McConville’s murder in 1999, it claimed she had been an informer.

The McConville family has denied this claim and called for it to be withdrawn.

A Police Ombudsman report previously said it found no evidence of the claim following an investigation.

In a statement the family said: “She was a loving, working-class, widowed mother doing her best to raise 10 children.

“They murdered her because they could.

“We may not have got justice but we have got some truth. But this cannot finish here. We need and demand a full public inquiry.”

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