Published Thursday, 06 December 2012
Jean McConville, who disappeared in 1972, pictured with three of her children. (© Pacemaker)
Jean McConville was kidnapped by the IRA in west Belfast in 1972. The mother of ten was murdered and secretly buried in one of the most controversial killings of the Troubles.
For decades her loved ones had no idea what had happened to her, but her body was eventually found near a County Louth beach in 2003.
Her family were finally able to lay her to rest but the campaign for justice led by her sons Archie, Michael and James continues 40 years on.
Michael said Mr Adams apologised to him in private for the way the IRA had treated the family.
The Louth TD has always strenuously denied claims that he was a senior member of the IRA in Belfast at the height of the Troubles. He has also denied any knowledge of Ms McConville's murder.
Gerry Adams once apologised to me in private about what had taken place and the way the IRA had treated our family. And he shook my hand and he said: 'I hope that does something for you'.
Michael added: "That was no good; that was behind closed doors. I would like him to come out and say it publically."
There was no investigation into the disappearance for 20 years despite the family reporting her missing.
The first investigation started in 1995 - 23 years after Ms McConville disappeared.
"The whole family has been let down," Archie said.
Michael said: "If a proper investigation had taken place, I don't think they would have got my mother off the Falls Road and my mother would have still been alive today, if the police had done their jobs."
Michael was eleven when his mother was abducted.
"There was about ten or eleven of them. Some of them had masks on, some hadn't got masks on. Some of the women that were there, we knew them," he said.
"They used to live beside us. They turned round and said they were the IRA and that they were taking our mother away for questioning. We kept crying and said: 'Sure you had her last night and you beat her up'."
My mother was panicking, she was in an awful state; she was shaking; she was crying; she was trembling with fear.
Archie was sixteen years old then - and managed to persuade the gang to allow him to go with his distraught mother.
But they had a change of heart when they dragged the widow down the stairwell.
"There was another gang of them down at the bottom of the stairs... I was walking down with my mother and a man put a gun to my head," he said.
"That's how they got my mother out of the house."
Jim was just six years old. He said: "I still remember getting trailed upstairs, screaming crying after my mother and being put into a room.
"The nightmares never go away."
The IRA claimed Ms McConville was murdered because she was an informer. But an investigation by former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan found no evidence of that.
Her family have always denied the claim, insisting she was murdered because she helped an injured British soldier near her west Belfast home.
"Everybody talks about my mother being murdered," Michael said. "My mother wasn't murdered, she was executed. She was taken to a beach, a gun was put to her head and the trigger was pulled."
"If this had happened in any other country, they would have been brought up for war crimes."
The PSNI have launched a new investigation into the murder.
© UTV News