Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Disappeared focus of new exhibition

Oliver McVeigh, in front of a picture of his brother Columba, hopes a new exhibition may reveal information about where the teenager's remains are buried

The brother of a teenager kidnapped and killed by the IRA over 40 years ago said he hopes a new exhibition will lead to information about the location of his body.

Columba McVeigh, 19, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, was among 17 people abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans between 1972 and 2003.

His brother Oliver, said the new show at Belfast City Hall could prompt someone to come forward.

"Every little bit counts," he said. "This new exhibition might trigger the right person's mind to come forward with the information we need."

To date the bodies of 10 people have been recovered.

The remains of seven others, including west Belfast IRA man Joe Lynskey, Brendan McGraw from Twinbrook, also in west Belfast, and SAS-trained officer Captain Robert Nairac, have never been found.

Last week, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains which was set up by the British and Irish Governments a year after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, confirmed that the search for Colomba McVeigh in Co Monaghan, had been called off.

It was the sixth time a dig had been carried out for the remains of Mr McVeigh, who vanished in November 1975.

Oliver McVeigh added: "It is very frustrating that after 10 years of searching we have still not found my brother's body. We need to keep this fresh in people's minds that we are struggling and that we need to find our relatives to bring them home for a Christian burial."

The display dedicated to The Disappeared opens at Belfast City Hall tomorrow and runs until November 9.

In July, Belfast City Council unanimously backed a motion to support the families of the Disappeared.

Sandra Peake from the Wave Trauma Centre, which supports the victims' families, said: "This exhibition will not only highlight the stories of the Disappeared to visitors to the City Hall, it stands as a testament to the dignity, courage and determination of all the families of the Disappeared to bring closure to this dark episode of Northern Ireland's past."

She said the families, who launched a book in June, were grateful for the opportunity to tell their stories.

"Each one is an intensely personal tragedy," she added.

"It is generally agreed that of all the tasks facing Richard Haass, finding a way of dealing with the past is by far the most difficult. But for the seven families who have not had the remains of their loved ones returned there is a process already in place to end their torment.

"The ICLVR needs new information to guide them to where the remaining bodies are buried.

"The families cannot rest until that happens."

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