The Disappeared BBC 4 presented by Darragh McIntyre

The Disappeared, as the name suggests, were those taken from their homes by the IRA in Northern Ireland during the troubles and their bodies hidden in bogs and ditches in unmarked graves, often in the Republic of Ireland. The most poignant of these was thirty-seven-year old Jean McConville. Her husband had died of cancer. She was a widow and mother of ten children aged between six and sixteen when the paramilitaries came for her in 1972 in the Divis flats. She was an outsider, a Protestant in a Catholic stronghold and there was a rumour she’d helped comfort a wounded British soldier. Her eleven year-old son Michael, recalled the paramilitaries wore masks, but some of them didn’t and he recognised one of the woman, a neighbour and his mother shouting ‘Help Me. Help Me’ as the kids wrapped themselves around their mum’s body. Later, he too was taken away by the IRA’s youth wing and beaten for spreading malicious rumours that his mum had been disappeared by the IRA. They’d put out a press report that she’d been seen…This was a common tactic. Disappeared like Kevin McKee aged 17, he’d been seen…Seamus Wright executed, he’d been seen…’  

            After the IRA Amnesty there was a promise that the disappeared bodies would be returned to their loved ones. After excavations looking for the body of  Jean McConville in the Republic had failed, she  was found by a dog walker on the same beach, but further along.  I found this interesting because her eldest daughter Agnes had a vivid dream she’d been buried on that beach and also because even when the disbanded IRA had offered to help find the body they didn’t know where it was. Seamus Heaney’s ‘The Bog Queen’ provides a backdrop for the different accounts. But to understand the small town mentality of the IRA it’s perhaps worth reading Bernard MacLaverty’s Cal.  

            The kingpin in Cal in Mr Crilly. The kingpin in real life was and is Gerry Adams. He accuses Darragh MacIntyre of recycling the same stories, which he does, of course, because they’re all essentially the same. The Disappeared disappear. He also recycles the story of us all being in some way responsible. What he doesn’t do is admit to be Operational Commander of the IRA when many of those who were disappeared were taken and executed. An old comrade Brendan Hughes says quite plainly he’s lying. Those that came through the IRA ranks with him, Dolours Price (factionalised in Fifty Dead Men Walking) and Brendan Hughes who claimed to be very close to Adams also accused him of lying. Both of them are dead and so not able to refute Adam’s contention that they’d their own reasons for not agreeing with him. Gerry Adams is a politician. His legalese language reminds me of Glasgow’s own Tommy Sherridan. Friends are always disposable. A liar is someone that doesn’t agree with you. Make your own mind up. Watch it on BBC iPlayer.


Your blog is well written and I will not be watching The Disappeared because it is too horrible. Like yourself I never liked Gerry Adams. I recall the arrest many years ago of an IRA man called Dominic McGlinchy. His own comrades called him 'the Mad Dog' because he did away with so many and seemed to enjoy murdering people. Adams' comment on TV was 'Dominic McGlinchy is a victim'.Well, I thought if Adams cannot sound slighty more intelligent than that and give some condolences to the relatives of the dead he will not last long in politics! I do not have any time for the mad twits on the Orange side either.

Have to hope for peace to carry on or at least for N Ireland to carry on being less bad than it used to be      Elsie

Thanks CM. Right up my street. Will find it and watch.


yeh, Mad Dog is in Greenock now. I think he was warned get out of Ireland or...His son, the Mad Pup, was recently up for some serious assault charge. I think he got off. Don't blame you for not watching Elsie.

I'm sure there'll be a few 'faces' you know jolono. fodder for your stories.


I will watch it because of the way you've written about it here xx

hi denni, don't watch it because of me. Watch it because of you.


I'll watch it cos you brought it to my attention. How's that xx

sweet denni. thanks


I won't watch it because of any of this, I'll watch it because my leccy's still on.


wow scratch there's a darkness in your comment.