Repaying the moral debt owed to Jean McConville…

There’s a very powerful piece by Amanda Foreman on the importance of remembering in detail and without the darkest recesses of our past. It concerns the abduction, torture and killing of housewife and widow, Jean McConville. But it focuses less on the act itself than the institutional lying that has attended it to this very day:

…though it was a group of individuals who killed Jean McConville, it is society that condoned her persecution in life and afterwards. Prejudice made her fall foul of the IRA because she had Protestant blood and because she had shown mercy to the enemy. Prejudice, because she was a Catholic from the wrong part of town, made her invisible to the officers of law and order. Prejudice, because she was a social outcast, enabled people to trash her reputation. Prejudice, because she was an uneducated woman without means or connections to men in power – or with guns, has allowed her murder to go unpunished.

It is our lack of will that lies behind the continued denial of justice to Jean McConville. Yet there is something that we can do now for her and for ourselves before our silence turns us from spectators into passive accomplices. We can remember her. We can memorialise her and all that she represents. Teach her story to future generations and at least the moral debt owed to Jean McConville can be repaid. Jean McConville. Jean McConville. Jean McConville.

  • andnowwhat

    Alias, I don’t think there is any doubting about the prolonged media attack against SF. We allknow how nice and cozy the set up has been for most of the modern state’s existance.

    How loudly was Suzanne Breen shouting about the Liam Adams story whilst the rest of us were wrapped up in the Robinson saga (which BTW has, along with other such reporting, probably meant the trial cannot go ahead).

    I think the media attack on them has been going on for a while as I recall some older stories following SF’s success in council elections.

    I do not want to comment on the Jean Mc Conville issue because I cannot see a convincing version one way or another.

    I do not believe in loyalty in any way. When you read what people loyal to a political belief “have” to say (and I mean on all sides) in order to defend their sides, perhaps you can see why I hold this opinion of loyalty.

    Re the article, a few trees had to fall for nothing. A waste of time with a blatantly obvious message to demonise SF voters.

  • Alias

    Some of her article is propaganda but that doesn’t discount statement that the murder of Jean McConville was a vile atrocity. For example, she cites Ireland’s membership of the International Criminal Court and implies that Ireland’s member state status is inconsistent its citizens electing a ‘war criminal’ when the relevant conventions only apply to the criminal prosecution of state actors, and not to criminal acts committed by private citizens such as Mr Adams that are already indictable under criminal law. She seems to have overlooked the fact that the UK has also ratified the Rome Statute and that its citizens duly elected Mr Adams to the UK’s parliament and, indeed, that the British government is one of Mr Adams’ strongest sponsors wherein his party is a member of Her Majesty’s devolved administration.

    The voters will make up their own minds, and most of them will already have done so. As someone who intends to vote for PSF to remove europhiles from Dáil Éireann, am I persuaded that I shouldn’t vote for them because of what their party leader did to Jean McConville? No. I wouldn’t vote for them at all if I didn’t think that it is profoundly undemocratic for Dáil Éireann to be comprised of 100% europhiles.

    You could cite, for example, Bloody Sunday, and point out that the Tories have been elected since that atrocity but the problem with that sort of bogus rebuttal, apart from being an obvious ‘you too’ trick, is that there is no evidence that Mr Heath gave the order to those solders to murder the state’s citizens. There is plenty of evidence against Mr Adams but he has always been a protected species.

    Granni Trixie mentioned that very few attended the funeral of Jean McConville. The story is so powerful that if you were to make a film of it, you’d be hard-pressed not to make a masterpiece…

  • Redhugh78

    It’s not whataboutery,it’s exposing the usual selective reporting of so called ‘journalists’ and their pathetic attempts to try and stem the rise of SF,exactly the same reason why Mick (incidentally has Peter been delegating lately to Mick?) has blogged about it.

    Maybe Jude hit a nerve, are you a tad sensitive?

  • Mick Fealty


    I agree with you, it’s not whataboutery (you can search Slugger for our original, widely quoted, definition of the term). It’s pointing to significant context of the use of the original story.

    But in fact by dealing head-on with the material itself that contribution of alias’s is the most effective rebuttal of Ms F’s piece in 102 comments, bar none.

  • pippakin


    Of course its a form of propaganda and there will be more. Jude Collins in a Shinner supporter I wonder what his blog is saying, next time I can’t sleep I’ll have a look.

    The problem for SF is with so many skeletons rattling in the closet its almost impossible for them to be heard above the din. The IRA murdered Jean McConville and all the disappeared. Cometh the hour cometh the murderer? Not on my vote.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah sorry @redhugh, your first is a pretty full bloodied piece of Whataboutery; or desertion of the field of battle in the face of the enemy… 🙂

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Granni Trixie mentioned that very few attended the funeral of Jean McConville.”

    If she was viewed as an informer that would not be at all surprising.

    By the way, the real story here:

    Civilians killed by:
    (omitted the less than 10s)

    As you can see, the PIRA killed 496 civilians.

    However, the opposing forces combined to kill 350+224+149+122+74+13+12=944.

    To be “generous”, you can add all of the unspecified Republican killings, the REP-78, to make the IRA total = 574.

    Now, in comparison to the 944 killed civilians, the same souls who killed them managed to kill 143 PIRA (actually is 6 less, since between them, the OIRA, GS, IA and BP account for 6 of the 143, with the 143 arrriving after deducting the 132 own goals from the grand total PIRA dead of 275).

    On the other side, the PIRA killed the noted 496 civilians, and also 456 BA, 271 RUC, 183 UDR, 26 UDA and 12 UVF.

    With all that in mind, I know who the socipaths are, and they aren’t the folk who killed 456 BA, 271 RUC, 183 UDR, 26 UDA and 12 UVF versus 456 civilians. Nope. The sociopaths are the folk who killed 350+224+149+122+74+13+12=944 versus 137 PIRA killed.

    One of these days, purported journalists will get the import of numbers. And as for why some engaged in violent revolution, well, the same state of mind that accounts for 944 versus 137 was there before the revolution. Matter of fact, it’s why some made revolution.

    Lastly, as I am certain that all will recall, those with Sinn Fein on the Brain and Stoops included, there as that PIRA statement after the ombudswoman’s report. Given the numbers above, it seems fairly certain that the PIRA didn’t go out of way’s to engage in gratuitious killing. Couple the PIRA statement with the Dark’s implicating himself in the affair, and I’m certain that some rather suspected her of being an informer. For those who can’t connect the dots, the import of the Dark’s report is: (1) he unequivocally supported her execution, and (2) he reported that the dispute between Ivor Bell and Gerry over what to do with the body. (2) is the element that provides the authenticity. You see, the movement cannot respect person, i.e., no playing favorites, as the movement does not want anyone to think that some lives in the community are worth more than others. That’s Ivor Bell, who wishes to leave her dead body in public, to send the message re treatment of informers and to show that the movement does not play favorites. Gerry, on the other hand, understands the countervailing consideration, to wit, while the movement relies on community support, not everyone is willing to provide that support unconditionally, and some humans do play favorites, and so if this was a childless man who didn’t dress well or bathe frequently there would be less anguish than with mother of ten, i.e., Big Gerry does understand that some believe that some other lives are more valuable than yet other lives, and so we’re going to have to disappear her, as she might be Ms. Foreman’s cause celebre whereas the childless man who doesn’t dress well or bathe frequently will surely not rate even so much as a word from her or the Guardian. So not only does the info provided by the Dark express the dynamic the movement faces, and so rather likely to be true, but Ms. Foreman proves that Gerry was right.

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Big Gerry’, by his own account, was never in the ‘RA, and therefore never made any of the decisions you now assert he did.

    From a half truth you can build any version of the mediated truth you want. And most of the half truths publicly promulgated are at the expense of people whose lives are at one time considered less valuable than others (probably for some of the coldly pragmatic reasons you outline above).

  • andnowwhat

    Alias, I totally agree that the Jean Mc Conville killing was vile. Say I take the accusation that she was an informer as truth (as I said last night, neither side has convinced me either way) they had an other optionm which they have exercised before, to chase her out of the area.

    Re the article. If I accept the gist of her propaganda does that mean it is immoral to vote for the tories and Labour because they voted for at least one illegal war that cost the life of thousands of innocent Iraqis as well as the needless death of British soldiers?

    Is it wrong to vote Labour because of the very stong suspicions relating to the death of David Kelly and the mire of the smoke and mirrors that surround the case?

    Closer to home, does one not vote DUP because one of their MPs was quite happy to share a platform with a known lyalist in the shape of Billy Wright?

    Sorry, my latter examople is more than a bit whataboutery but I hope you get why I gave the example.

  • Mark

    Alias – If you have a minute , remember when mossad murdered / killed / assassinated that alleged spy in that hotel with the dodgy irish passports and the tennis rackets . What do you think of making a film about that ? You would be hard pressed not to make a masterpiece . Hollywood i presume , well you want to keep it in the family don’t you .

    Listen Alias , your hatred of all things republican in well known but also knows no bounds . That kind of hate can turn inwards and take 10 years off your life . Whoever is paying you for this hate camapign is really getting value for their ( well you tell me alias , its not euros ) dollars . If I were you , I would be looking for a rise .

    You were having a go at redhugh78 for ” all his skill as a self-appointed role of shinner propagandist ” Red writes with passion , you can read it in his posts. You sound like your retyping a menu . There is more passion in a fart .

  • Jimmy

    “That kind of hate can turn inwards and take 10 years off your life .”

    Indeed. Which is where we came in.

  • JJ Malloy

    He wasn’t an alleged spy, he was a leading member of Hamas if I remember correctly.

    Don’t worry about Alias, he is voting for Sinn Fein come January.

  • joeCanuck

    There are a lot of red herrings being cast about here; torture, no torture, warnings, one transmitter, two transmitters, whataboutery etc.
    The woman was abducted in front of her children, taken somewhere and murdered then buried secretly. Isn’t that enough to condemn the perpetrators and him who ordered the “action”?

  • pippakin


    This is familiar shinner supporter tactics. It doesn’t work. The brutal facts speak for themselves.

  • Mark


    It’s just the one vote you have is’nt it ? You seem like your having a bad day .

  • pippakin


    Regrettably I have just the one vote. I tried to persuade the appropriate authorities that I was worth more but they just wouldn’t wear it.

    I hesitate to speak too soon but compared to last night I’m having a brilliant day!

  • Mark

    Pippakin ,

    People get very narky on monday nights . Still its better than listening to Bill Cullen .

  • Mark

    My secretary has just walked in looking for a pay rise . They are taking 8 euros off her dole and a tenner of her mickey money .

  • Mark

    I meant my ex wife .

  • JJ Malloy

    Sounds like a personal problem to me, Mark

  • pippakin


    Last night was only half a surprise: one was a complete unknown to me but the other one is an old foe. People feel very strongly about SF and republicanism.

  • Mark

    Pippakin ,

    Yeah , poor oul Joan had you down as a fella , and quite a prick at that .

  • pippakin


    Not sure what she/he thought of me. Getting angry about disagreements is one thing, but bearing in mind I actually agreed with her about the torture claim, it was too quick to be genuine. In any event she was wrong on both counts.

  • Alias

    “Listen Alias , your hatred of all things republican in well known but also knows no bounds . That kind of hate can turn inwards and take 10 years off your life . Whoever is paying you for this hate camapign is really getting value for their ( well you tell me alias , its not euros ) dollars . If I were you , I would be looking for a rise .”

    Actually, I am pro-republican and, hence, anti-Shinner. Contempt is closer to the mark than hate. I’m happy enough with what the Securocrats are paying me to post on Slugger (200 Sterling pounds per hour plus free access to transcripts of Shinner economic policy meetings for light entertainment). I’d be taking the proverbial to ask for a rise in the present economic climate.

  • Alias

    andnowwhat, there seems to be an invalid premise there that it is acceptable to ordinary citizens to violate a human right (such as the right to life) if a group of individuals form a gang and then declare that all other citizens are subject to its code of conduct and that violation of said code carries the death penalty. That bizarre premise is not shared by the public who quite properly do not regard the murder gang as having any legitimacy to usurp the human, civil or political rights of other citizens at their discretion and, therefore, regard the murder and the murderers are repugnant to decency and law.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “‘Big Gerry’, by his own account, was never in the ‘RA, and therefore never made any of the decisions you now assert he did.”

    When some sign him up for transaction immunity, he’ll likely sing a differing tune. Until then, he’d have to be a fool to admit membership in the PIRA, since that alone is ground for a trial, conviction and jail term.

    “From a half truth you can build any version of the mediated truth you want. And most of the half truths publicly promulgated are at the expense of people whose lives are at one time considered less valuable than others (probably for some of the coldly pragmatic reasons you outline above).”

    What “half truth” are you speaking of? The reality here is that Jean McConville affords Ms. Foreman the opportunity to blather on about how Jean’s conversion to Catholicism was apparently not enough to compensate for her “Protestant blood” (whatever that means). And the RUC, what were they to do? They couldn’t even walk down the Falls without a BA escort. But it wasn’t that, it was their anti-Catholicism. You want to make that last point, fine, make it. Jean McConville isn’t your proof though. The proof is the dead Catholic child who wasn’t posing any danger but was nevertheless shot dead. Lastly, if want the handy dandy comparison, it would be Jean McConville versus Joan Connolly (mother of 8) and Daniel Teggart (father of 15). The other handy dandy comparison would be Jean McConville’s orphaned children versus dead children like Annette McGavigan, Margaret Gargan and Manus Deery. And, of course, the reason why we hear about the late Mrs. McConville and her orphaned children, and not about Joan Connolly and Daniel Teggart, and Annette McGavigan, Margaret Gargan and Manus Deery is that some see the opportunity to score political points by using the dead as a blunt rhetorical instrument. I would ask, have some no shame, but since the point would be lost on them, why bother. In the meantime, I’ll we waiting for Amanda’s piece on Ballymurphy, aptly titled, Welcome To Pinkville…

  • Organized Rage

    And what precisely do you mean when you say ‘being used in death as she was in life’?

    Mick F

    What I meant was whilst she was alive Mrs McConville was dreadfully used, nay abused, by a UK state organisation, and of late, I do wonder if some are using her name to advance their own agenda.

    What gets me about some people, and Amanda Foreman is one of them, they never question the wretched behaviour of the British government when its employees encouraged a mother of ten children to be their eyes and ears within her community, which at the time could only be described as a war zone.

    The responsibility for causing this poor woman’s death is far wider than the volunteer who ordered it, or those who carried that order out.

  • Blair

    Organised Rage,

    Oh I get it. You just ignore all the facts and go with the Provo drone explanation. [text removed – mods]

  • pippakin

    There is absolutely no proof or evidence that Mrs McConville was used by anyone except the IRA as an appalling example of what could happen.

    Brendan Hughes believed she was a spy and said he found transmitter/s in her flat but then he would say that. If he didn’t believe it he would have to acknowledge he had been personally involved not in the heroic struggle for Irish freedom but in the savage murder of a widowed mother of ten.

    I respect Brendan Hughes but I think he believed what he needed to believe.

  • Alias

    Pippy, I think it more likely that it was a means by which a state agent could infiltrate an anti-state organisation by forcing toadies to bond with him in some terrible acts that were to be commissioned under his direction. The sub-sect, then referred to as ‘The Unknowns’, would present the young agent with the perfect means of securing his own private army within an army who would assit him up the ranks of the main sect.

  • Mick Fealty


    You simply don’t ‘know’ that. And the rest is whataboutery.

  • pippakin


    Its a possibility but I think if there was infiltration it actually started pretty close to the top. Scappawhatsit climbed the slippery pole but someone had to ‘promote’ him to the position he eventually held.

    The unknowns as a group answered to someone, they may have been a powerful group but they were not in charge, someone ‘instructed’ them.

  • Alias

    Err, The Unknowns answered to Gerry Adams. He also formed the ISU, PIRA’s internal security unit, and appointed Freddie Scappaticci to a leadership role in it, with his other appointee being JJ Magee (who Adams neglected to inform his fellow PIRA folks was a member of the British army).

  • pippakin


    Did he? No, no you can’t be right Gerry Adams was never in the IRA. He has told everyone, even those who didn’t want to know, repeatedly.

    If Jean McConville was not a spy and anyone with a working grey cell knows she was not, who I wonder might have been?

  • slappymcgroundout
  • Organized Rage

    ‘You simply don’t ‘know’ that. And the rest is whataboutery.

    Mick F

    Do not be silly, it is not whataboutery at all, in life we form judgements on what people write say and do, that is what I did when I said I ‘wonder’ (note that word) if some have their own agenda when they use Mrs McConville’s name.

    As to my point about this woman being used by the UK state, when dealing with the past, if we ourselves were not present when a historical event took place, we search out people who were, etc, we listen to what they have to say and make a judgement about their character whether to believe them or not.

    For example I would guess you would believe official sources above all others, whilst I would work over hot coals rather than take them at face value, as my whole life experiences have taught me this.

    Whereas if a former volunteer whom I have known for years and who has never deceived me in the past, tells me something they have direct knowledge of, I take them at their word. The more so if there are more than one of them to help one make up ones mind about the truth of the matter.

    It seems to me when making judgements of this type, this is the only principle one can work on.

  • Jimmy

    “It seems to me when making judgements of this type, this is the only principle one can work on.”

    Other than asking yourself whether the story makes sense. Much easier to go with the version that confirms your prejudices.