Jean McConville accused in court as case adjourned

Ivor Bell

Ivor Bell

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Senior prosecutors have been given two weeks to finalise legal opinion on the case against a veteran republican charged in connection with one of Northern Ireland’s most infamous murders.

Ivor Bell, 78, from Ramoan Gardens in west Belfast, was released on continuing bail after a brief appearance at Laganside Magistrate’s Court.

Bell is alleged to have aided and abetted in the murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville, who was abducted from her home in west Belfast in 1972. He is further accused of IRA membership.

During a hearing which lasted less than two minutes, a prosecution barrister requested a two-week adjournment so senior counsel could “finalise opinion” and for the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to consider it.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan said he had “no objections” to the short deferral.

Ordering the pensioner to reappear again next month, district judge George Conner said: “You are to come back on April 2 for a decision at that stage.”

Grey-haired moustachioed Bell appeared relaxed as he sat in the dock wearing an open-neck dark striped shirt and beige trousers.

He was supported by a man and woman in the public gallery.

Mrs McConville, a widow, was dragged from her home in the Divis flats by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in Belfast - an allegation discredited by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home. The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed on to police in the Irish Republic.

She became one of the “Disappeared” and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were eventually found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Nobody has ever been convicted for her murder.

The case was adjourned until April 2.