Saturday, April 10

We always knew it was the IRA....

A nervous Helen McKendry did a very powerful interview on RTE and it is available for a limited time on the RTE player here - it starts around one hour in.
Helen says her mother was a good mother and took the death of her husband badly. He died of cancer at 39, and left behind a family of nine in a flat in Divis. The mother was under a lot of pressure and wasn't coping well, due to a lack of family support. She was a protestant living in the Divis Flats, her family came from east Belfast.
Helen says Divis flats were at the centre of what was going on during the troubles, with a tense atmosphere there.
 At the end of 1972, (on Dec 6th ) Jean went to bingo, a woman friend of hers called to the flat and asked young Helen 'why are you at home Helen,' as someone had went to the bingo and said you'd been knocked down. Then the army called in the early hours and said their mother had been found wandering the streets of the lower Falls area in a distressed state and could the young girl go pick her up Helen went to the police station to fetch her mother who had been badly beaten and asked her to go to her grandmothers house in east Belfast but she refused, saying she had done nothing wrong. Her mother had been taken from the bingo hall and beaten by the IRA, but Jean had not said why this had happened to her.

The next evening Helen left the flat to go to the local shops when the flat door was kicked in by four women and eight men, who dragged her mother from the bathroom, and that was the last her family seen of her. Helen believes her mother was abducted because she was a protestant and who had gone to the aid of a wounded British Army soldier who had been shot.

When Jean disappeared no one came to look after the children until Helen went to seek help as she had no money for food, and then the whole family was broken up and farmed out to care.  When asked about Moloneys book Helen says she believes Adams was behind her mothers murder. She tells the story of when Adams came to talk to her about the murder and how his body language was strange and he denied involvement. He did say he'd go to the IRA to speak to them on the familys' behalf, after a fifteen minute meeting she was asked to leave and then taken to a flat in Belfast with four IRA men there who apologised to her for the murder and that the murder was a mistake.

Some points of dispute arose during the interview namely with O'Loans' account and with some but not all of Hughes account. Helen says these are her memories, and doesn't believe all of Hughes events, that the IRA did not come and give a warning but believes that his account of Adams' involvement is correct, even though Adams says he rejects the allegations.

This is an extremely powerful  interview and well worth a listen.

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