Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about the subpoenas of the Belfast Project.
In a series of arrests made in the ongoing investigation of the murder of Jean McConville-one of the most famous of up to 16 victims killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) between the ’70s and ’80s-a 57-year-old woman was brought in for questioning relating to the case last Wednesday, according to a report from The Guardian.
The unnamed woman was detained by police officers in west Belfast and transported to Antrim police station, but was subsequently released per a police report distributed to prosecutors, according to The Guardian.
McConville, a 37-year-old widowed mother of 10 who disappeared in 1972 and was later found to have been murdered by IRA members for suspicion of being an informant for the British army, has been the subject of much debate among authorities in Northern Ireland in recent months.
In late March, former IRA chief of staff Ivor Bell, 77, was arrested and charged for aiding and abetting the murder of McConville, according to BBC Northern Ireland.
Bell’s arrest and others are being linked to the Belfast Project, an oral history initiative started by Boston College in 2001. According to the same BBC report, the case against Bell is based on an interview he allegedly gave as part of the Belfast Project.
The project was dissolved in 2011 after the U.S. Department of Justice issued subpoenas on behalf of the PSNI ordering the University to release the tapes of interviews conducted with Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, two former Northern IRA militants.
The audiotapes of interviews used for the project were housed in BC’s John J. Burns Library, but a number were later turned over after being subpoenaed by the PSNI. Contracts between interview participants and the project’s organizers originally stipulated that the tapes would be sealed until each individual’s death due to their sensitive nature, but were unscreened by lawyers, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
A U.S. federal judge issued the subpoena that ruled that BC had to turn over all tapes relevant to the death of McConville to PSNI on the basis of a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and the UK that maintains both countries act in full compliance with each other during criminal investigations.
One week after Bell’s arrest, another unnamed 56-year-old man was brought in to Antrim police station for questioning regarding the murder of McConville and similarly released hours later, according to The Guardian.
The Guardian also reported that Hughes also alleged during a Belfast Project interview that current Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams oversaw the orders to bury McConville in secret.
McConville’s body wasn’t discovered until August 2003, 20 years after Adams assumed the Sinn Fein presidency.
Adams has never admitted to being a member of the IRA and has openly disputed any connection with McConville’s death.