A woman abducted and murdered by the IRA squealed as she was dragged away from her family, her son says.

Jean McConville was taken down the stairs of a high rise block of flats, bundled into a van and never seen again, wrongly suspected of informing to the security forces in republican west Belfast during the height of the conflict.

The children looked out the window and saw the gang putting their mother into a van, which drove off with one car in front and one behind.

Michael McConville, who was aged only 11 at the time, said her eightieth birthday would have been approaching this year.


"The IRA robbed a family of their mother growing old, they took everything away from us," he said.

"I would have liked to have seen her being 80.

"I would have liked to have seen her seeing her children and grandchildren growing up. She missed all that."

The day before the IRA had come to a bingo hall and took her outside, beating her until she did not know where she was, Michael McConville said.

She was found, disorientated and wandering the streets, by the British army.

The family went to the army's "police station" and brought their mother home.

"She had cuts and bruises all over her face and around her arms and legs. She said that the IRA had done it," he said.

"We wanted her to go to her mother's house, my grandmother lived in East Belfast. She said she was not going as she had nothing to hide."

Her son described what happened that evening, after a rap on the door.

"People barged their way in, some had masks and some had not."

He recognised some of the faces as neighbours, people living in the same Divis flats as them.

"We knew these people by name and they knew us by name," he said.

"We held on to our mother and crying and screaming and our mother was crying, she was squealing as well because she probably knew that if she went outside what she was going to go through from the night before."

Her abductors told her family they were only taking her for a short period of time and allowed another son to leave the room with her. Once in the stairwell they put a gun to his head and told him to "f*** off".

Michael McConville added: "As a child I was thinking why do people do this, the brutality of what they did the night before, why do this to my mother?"

He was put in a children's home.

"I knew then that my mother was dead," he said.

His siblings were put in separate properties, meeting rarely.

"When I see my younger brothers and sisters, the way they have turned out, it really wrecks me, it should never have happened to us," he said.