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.

  • Nic

    In the context of that final paragraph, Kevin Myers has a right eloquent go in today’s Indo. The article was available online up until a while ago, but they’ve pulled it now, it seems:
    Why informing on the IRA is always the best course of action to save innocent lives
    You can still read the leader though:
    “EXCUSE me. The entire discussion of the fate of Jean McConville has been predicated on a false morality which has been imported like a lethal virus from the moral dementia of Sinn Fein-IRA. The issue is not whether or not she was an informer. That is entirely irrelevant. The issue is, who has the right to kill her?”

    Continuing in that vein. If that is indeed the central question in the whole appaling vista, why does Moloney/Slugger tuck the important bit right in at the end while giving prominence to irrelevant discussions about whether she comforted a dying soldier or not? Moral dementia, indeed.

  • Peking

    Mick has quite a talent for missing the crux of most pieces.
    Such as Maloney’s contention at the start of his article that the IRA were guilty of war crimes in line with those of the worst South American dictators. And how this impacts on the fitness for public office of then IRA leaders, particularly in Belfast, who are now leading SF poiticos.

  • John Maynard

    As far as I know, the family don’t make this claim about a dying soldier. Their claim is that Jean McConville had bought some second-hand furniture off the head of the women’s IRA, who later came around demanding more money for it. This was the beginning of the argument with the Provos.

    Maloney is setting up a straw man – and my information is that the Jean McConville section in his own book was very much a quid pro quo for interviews with leading republicans.

  • Irish in America

    “Large gap in evidence”. A coverup! The Brits know.

  • another cynic

    my information is that the Jean McConville section in his own book was very much a quid pro quo for interviews with leading republicans

    And who are you and why should we believe you? Where did your information come from and what is your information?

    The allegations about the dying solider have been common currency for years.