The remains of a man believed to have been murdered and buried in the Irish Republic by the IRA in 1981 have been discovered, security sources said last night.
Danny McIlhone was one of the so-called Disappeared abducted and killed by republicans during the conflict, and part of his body is believed to have been discovered in Co Wicklow today.
Forensic tests have been under way in the area since last year as part of efforts to return Mr McIlhone’s body to his family.
A spokesman said: “Partial human remains have been recovered by a team working on behalf of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains which is currently ongoing at the site in Co Wicklow.”
The body was found in the Ballynultagh area. Searches were carried out before in 1999 and 2000 without success.
Mr McIlhone was named by the IRA as one of the nine so-called disappeared.
A forensic expert has been working with the commission to turn up new leads and the discovery is thought to have been the result of that renewed effort.
Oliver McVeigh, whose brother Columba (17) disappeared in Dublin in 1975, kidnapped by the IRA, said he was delighted for the McIlhone family.
“It proves that people working on the ground can locate these remains provided they get the right information,” he said. There is no reason why others who have this information, the proper information, cannot come forward and end the families’ suffering and agony.
This will be a great relief for his family
“We know there are people out there who have this information, especially in my brother’s case.”
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomed the discovery of the remains and extended his condolences to Mr McIlhone's family.
“The apparent discovery of Danny McIlhone's remains will come as a great relief for his family,” Mr Adams said.
“It is also evidence that republicans continue to work diligently on this important issue.”
The West Belfast MP added: “It will also be an encouragement to the other families who are still hoping that the remains of their loved ones will be found. I hope that the McIlhone family will now get the closure they deserve.”