BELFAST, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Irish nationalist leader Gerry Adams will not face prosecution over the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service said on Tuesday, more than a year after he was briefly arrested over the killing.
The shooting dead of McConville, who was abducted by the Irish Republican Army in front of her 10 children from a nationalist area, was one of the most controversial of over 3,000 killings in three decades of sectarian violence.
Adams’s arrest for four days in May 2014 rocked Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, with his party Sinn Fein saying it brought into question the impartiality of the police.
Adams said he was “innocent of any part” in the murder, and said all of the evidence against him was hearsay.
On Wednesday, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service said in a statement there would be no further cases brought in relation to the killing, meaning only one person, Ivor Bell, is being prosecuted on charges of soliciting the killing.
“We have given careful consideration to the evidence currently available … and have concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any of them for a criminal offence,” the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Pamela Atchison, said in a statement.
The decision not to prosecute Adams or six other people comes amid crisis talks between the main parties in Northern Ireland after the pro-British first minister stepped aside over the likely role of the Irish Republican Army in a recent killing.
A 1998 peace deal largely ended three decades of sectarian violence between Catholics who want a united Ireland and Protestants who want Northern Ireland to remain British.
But one of the key planks of that deal was undermined last month when police said the IRA was likely involved in the murder of a former operative, despite assurances from Sinn Fein that the group had “left the stage”.
One of McConville’s sons, Michael, said in a statement that he would “continue to seek justice for our mother … no matter how long it takes.”
(Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Dominic Evans)