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Boston College interviews link IRA to murder of widow

| Saturday, March 22, 2014, 9:24 p.m.

A series of Boston College interviews with former members of the Irish Republican Army has led to the arrest of a former terrorist commander in connection with one of the most notorious murders of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Ivor Bell, 77, appeared in a Belfast courtroom on Saturday on charges of aiding the killers of Jean McConville, a Catholic 37-year-old widow and mother of 10.

McConville's kidnapping, killing and secret burial in 1972 is a politically explosive crime because of its disputed links to Gerry Adams, now a prominent Catholic politician in the Republic of Ireland.

At the time, Bell was Adams' superior officer in the Belfast IRA.

For decades, the IRA denied involvement. McConville's children were told that their mother had abandoned them as they were scattered into several foster homes. But the IRA admitted in 1999 that it murdered and buried at secret locations unarmed Catholic civilians accused of being British informers.

The children and grandchildren of the murdered widow were in court to hear a detective allege that Bell was “Mr. Z” on a tape recorded for the Boston College's Belfast Project, candid interviews with former IRA and loyalist paramilitaries. The former terrorists were told the tapes would only be made public after their deaths, but court cases in the United States led to some tapes being handed over to the authorities.

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