Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Beach focus of 'Disappeared' search

Peter Wilson went missing in August 1973 after leaving his west Belfast home
Peter Wilson went missing in August 1973 after leaving his west Belfast home

An idyllic beach where the grief-stricken family of a republican murder victim holidayed after his death has became the focus of a search for his body.

Archaeologists and other experts have begun a painstaking examination at the seaside village of Waterfoot in the Glens of Antrim for the remains of Peter Wilson, a 21-year-old from west Belfast with special needs who vanished almost 40 years ago.

The unemployed Catholic man left his house in the Beechmount area in August 1973 and was never seen again.

He has since been classed as one of the so-called "Disappeared" - 16 people who were killed and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.

His family believes the IRA was responsible for the murder, but the organisation's leadership has never officially admitted the killing.

The new search by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) was triggered by a tip-off understood to have come from within the republican movement.

In a cruel twist it has emerged that Mr Wilson's mother, brother and sisters often visited the beauty spot without ever knowing he could have been buried beneath their feet. While his parents have since died, his surviving siblings have expressed hope that their long wait will soon be over.

They said in a statement released on Tuesday: "We are so relieved that a search for his body will start today. The beach at Waterfoot was a place we have visited often over the years with our mother and children, unaware that Peter was buried there."

Geoff Knupfer, senior investigator at the commission, said he is confident the information about the location, which was received this summer, is accurate.

But he cautioned that in the 37 years since, the sea could have claimed Mr Wilson's remains.

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