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4 September 2003 Edition

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Remains located after IRA review

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says he hopes the remains of a woman found on Shelling Beach in County Louth last week turn out to be those of Jean McConville.

"I hope this brings closure to her family," he said. "I met some of the families just before the end of last year and the beginning of this year and on the back of all that, and because they were obviously focused on trying to get the remains back for burial, there was a review which the IRA has described in its statement."

Adams was speaking after he met with Dublin government officials on Tuesday 2 September.

In the aftermath of the discovery, the IRA issued a statement on Sunday 31 August saying that it had passed on "specific information" over a month ago in relation to the sites where the bodies of Jean McConville and Tyrone teenager Columba McVeigh were buried. In its statement, the IRA said it had reviewed all of the information available and in the course of this review had revisited each case in detail.

The Dublin government confirmed they had received this information 24 hours later.

"Our intention was to do all within our power to redress injustices for which we accept full responsibility and to alleviate the suffering of the families, particularly those families who have been unable to bury or properly mourn their relatives," said the IRA in its statement.

Gerry Adams said he believed the IRA has made a genuine attempt to help locate the bodies of people executed and buried by the IRA since the 1970s.

Adams said that in the course of the review, the IRA confirmed that it had identified burial places.

Meanwhile, in its statement, the IRA insisted it was not responsible for the disappearance of Armagh man Gareth O'Connor.

Responding to questions from a reporter about this case, Adams said he was positive about trying to help anybody. "Of course if we can will help we will. If there is anything we can do, then we will do it."

Text of IRA statement

Issued Sunday 31 August

"We hope that the women's remains found at Shelling Beach last week will bring closure to the trauma and suffering endured by the McConville family.

Over a month ago we passed on specific information in relation to the sites where the bodies of Jean McConville and Columba McVeigh were buried.

This followed a complete review of all the information available to us. In the course of this review we revisited each case in detail. We have also previously called for anyone with information to come forward.

In March 1999 the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann revealed the outcome of an 18-month investigation to locate the graves of nine people executed and buried by the IRA in a period from 1972 to 1981.

In initiating that investigation our intention was to do all within our power to redress injustices for which we accept full responsibility and to alleviate the suffering of the families, particularly those families who have been unable to bury or properly mourn their relatives.

Many complicating factors both hampered and protracted that investigation, including the lapse of time, changes in leadership and deaths of members and former members of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

Despite all of this we reaffirm that the areas identified by us are the burial places of people killed by the IRA.

There have been calls for us to provide information on other people who are missing at this time.

As previously stated by us, we are not responsible for all those listed in the media as having gone missing over the past three decades. We are responsible only for those we acknowledge in our statement of March 1999.

We are not involved in the recent disappearance of Gareth O'Connor from Armagh. Anyone with information about the case should make that information available to the O'Connor family."

P O'Neill
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau
Dublin

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