A son-in-law of Jean McConville believes that circumstances are coming together that will facilitate a long hoped for civil action against Gerry Adams for his alleged role in the mother-of-10’s murder.
Seamus McKendry said yesterday that he hoped the arrest of Mr Adams would speed up the point at which the Boston Tapes – containing interviews with republicans about the murder – could be released by the PSNI to his legal team.
A criminal prosecution must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. However, civil actions must only prove their case on ‘the balance of probability’ – a much easier prospect to achieve.
“We have been wanting to bring a civil action for 20 years,” Mr McKendry, husband of Jean’s daughter Helen, told the News Letter yesterday.
“Disappearing people is against the Geneva Convention. That means it is a war crime for Jean’s murderers to be walking down the streets when Milosevic and his friends were brought to trial for the same thing.”
At present he is putting together a business plan for the prosecution, and consulting with legal experts.
He has found three private sector backers who have expressed an interest in supporting the litigation financially.
“We are also looking at setting up a crowd funding web site on the internet to allow ordinary members of the public to contribute to the fund,” he added.
“I believe Gerry Adams was being protected for a long time to some degree to try and protect the peace process. But now I think they know it can survive without him, especially after how he handled his brother’s child sex abuse.”
Mr McKendry said he had asked the PSNI if he could have sight of the Boston Tapes as handed over by the US government, but has been refused at this time.
Michael Gallagher, whose son was killed in the Omagh bomb and who helped lead the successful civil action against those responsible, told the News Letter that the PSNI released all related files to his legal team under disclosure – but only after they found they could proceed no further with a criminal prosecution.
Mr McKendry was not sure if Mr Adams would be charged by police.
“I just don’t know at this stage if they have enough evidence to charge him,” he said. “Perhaps it would be a good time for the British government to give a full explanation as to why they sprang him from Long Kesh in 1974 to engage in talks with them? We have been fighting this battle at some level ever since.”
Meanwhile, the one seasoned observer of Irish America also noted yesterday an “almost total absence” of any voices protesting against the arrest of Mr Adams.