Troubles echo in IRA trial

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I never thought I’d type these words: A former IRA commander has been charged with one of the most horrific murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, based on information gathered by Boston College as part of an oral history project.

Ivor Bell is awaiting trial in Belfast on charges that he aided and abetted the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, shot, and secretly buried by the IRA after she was accused of being an informer.

Bell’s lawyer said Bell was innocent but acknowledged that Bell was the man referred to as Mr. Z in a series of tape recorded interviews made by a researcher hired by BC to compile recollections of republicans and loyalists who fought in Northern Ireland.

That researcher, former Irish Republican Army volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre, told me from his home in Ireland that he expects the police to knock on his door any day. If they do, they’ll be wasting their time.

“I wouldn’t even tell them hello,” he said.

Neither will Bell, 77 and in ill health, who was a senior IRA commander before his star dimmed considerably after overseeing a 1984 gun-running mission out of Boston that was compromised by an IRA turncoat in Ireland. A Quincy man, John McIntyre, who was part of the crew of the Gloucester trawler Valhalla, was murdered by South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger after he was blamed for giving up the mission.

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