A relative of murder victim Jean McConville has questioned Gerry Adams’ credibility following a statement the Sinn Fein leader made about combating sectarianism.
Seamus McKendry, Mrs McConville’s son-in-law, said that the religious background of the Protestant-born mother-of-10 was a factor at the time of her abduction from her home off the Falls Road by the IRA.
While he did not claim she was targeted because of it, he said it made it easier for her killers to escape justice.
Mr McKendry was speaking on Monday, the day after Mr Adams delivered an address at a rally marking the 1916 Rising at which he had declared: “Hurts must be healed, divisions ended and the scourge of sectarianism must be tackled.”
The address was given at Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery following a parade down the Falls Road, and among those present was Shankill bomber Sean Kelly, who killed nine Protestants plus an IRA colleague in the botched 1993 bombing.
Mr McKendry, 58 and now living in Co Down (but who hails from a republican background in Andersonstown, south-west Belfast), described Mr Adams as a “dinosaur” who lives on “fantasy island”.
“Adams will never have credibility when he denies his own self,” he said, referring to the widely-held belief that he had been an IRA member.
“Anything the man says is to be taken with a pinch of salt... He was part of a war machine that endorsed sectarianism. So what he says now is completely hollow.”
Mr Adams had been detained and questioned for four days in 2014 in relation to Mrs McConville’s disappearance, amid claims that she had passed information to the Army.
Mr Adams has denied involvement in the crime, and of being a member of the IRA.
He was not charged.
When it comes to the murder of Mrs McConville, Mr McKendry said some in her republican community would have seen her as “only a Prod”.
“She was mistrusted in that community,” he said.
“I’m not saying she was abducted because she was a Prod. I’m saying it was easier for them to get away with what they did because she was a Prod.”
In 2014, Mr Adams had come under fire when he was recorded saying that republicans should “break these ba****ds – that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality”.
It was interpreted as a slur against unionists – although Mr Adams later said he had been referring to “bigots” in general.