A major investigative TV programme will tonight reveal how the IRA continued to lie about those they secretly abducted, tortured, murdered and buried — decades after the initial crimes.
In a programme which gravely undermines the credibility of republican claims to have done everything to recover the remains of The Disappeared, the joint BBC-RTE documentary contains fresh allegations that Gerry Adams had personal knowledge of several cases.
As allegations that he was responsible for the murder of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville were put to Mr Adams — who denies even having been a member of the IRA, despite evidence to the contrary — his lip repeatedly twitched before he replied: “That’s not true.”
But the programme broadcasts the voice of former IRA commander Brendan Hughes saying: “There was only one man who gave the order for Jean McConville to be executed. That man is now the head of Sinn Fein.”
The Sinn Fein president told the film makers that he had “no act or part to play” in Mrs McConville’s murder.
In the film by Darragh MacIntyre, the investigative journalist who uncovered Iris Robinson’s affair and financial dealings, he says: “If there was a hierarchy of victims of the Troubles, the disappeared were at the bottom.”
The documentary tells how the IRA repeatedly lied — both by denying, time and again, that it had any involvement in the murders — and through smearing their victims by spreading rumours.
In the case of Mrs McConville, they claimed that she was “in hiding” from her family, that she had been sighted back in Belfast and that sh was an Army informer.
In case after case, a similar pattern of lies followed each disappearance and murder.
Extraordinarily, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said when asked about two Ballymurphy victims who were murdered and disappeared: “Do you not live in the real world? People disappear all the time. People go off, people disappear...” He said he was committed to returning the remaining bodies to their families.
Provisional IRA founding member and former leader Billy McKee said that he would have approved of killing alleged informants — but would never have secretly buried them. Told that Sinn Fein had claimed the Provisional IRA had inherited the policy from the old men of the IRA, he angrily denounced the allegations as “confounded lies”.
Meanwhile, the brother of a man who was disappeared 35 years ago has made a fresh appeal for information about the location of his body. As the families of The Disappeared gathered for an annual All Souls Day Silent Walk on Saturday at Stormont, Kieran Megraw said he spends every day wondering where his brother Brendan’s body might be.