Were there gaps in military records?

The other story in the IT worth marking is the forensic detail in Ed Moloney’s response (subs needed) to the issue rasied by our analysis on the McConville killing the other day, which we noted that the Ombudsman’s report directly contradicted Moloney’s account in the Secret History of the IRA. It raises some difficult questions, not least for the Ombudsman’s Office.On his sources:

…it is important to remember that these people took a huge risk talking to me. They were not authorised by the IRA to speak to me and they would be in serious trouble with the IRA if their names ever became known. They were motivated, I believe, not because of a wish to malign Jean McConville, but because of their unease over the decision to “disappear” her ordered by their leaders.

On the Ombudsman’s report:

…there are questions about the Ombudsman’s statement. In one breath, Mrs O’Loan said that her investigators had “found no evidence” to support the charge against Mrs McConville, yet she also berated the inadequate police investigation of her disappearance at the time. According to one report, which quoted an unnamed official in her office: “There is a large gap in the paperwork and either it was never there or it went missing – it’s not clear whether it was ever there or was lost.” Is this perhaps one reason why no evidence could be found?

And he notes that the countercase, that she was killed because she aided a dying British soldier is not exactly replete with verifiable facts:

…the alternative explanation for Jean McConville’s death – that she was killed because she comforted a dying soldier – suffers seriously from a factual deficit. Although this version is undoubtedly held for genuine and good reasons, this explanation produces more questions than answers. There is no precedent for the IRA killing people for this type of reason, nor a record of a public warning from the IRA at this time not to comfort or come to the aid of wounded soldiers.

Not only that, but salient facts which by now should be common knowledge have not yet surfaced. What was the name of the soldier who was mortally wounded? What regiment was he in? When did this incident happen? What were the circumstances? Are there any eye-witnesses and, if so, why have they not told their story before now?

And finally:

The Jean McConville story is full of tragedy, especially for her still grieving family. But it is also about the morality and character of those who took the decision to “disappear” her and then lie about it. It would be wrong, in the controversy over what Jean McConville did or did not do, if that aspect was lost sight of.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty