Belfast Telegraph

Bishop's plea over IRA victims

A bishop has challenged parishioners around remote bogland where IRA murder victims were secretly buried to disclose any secrets about bodies that are still missing.

Bishop of Meath Michael Smith said the dumping of remains in unmarked graves around Oristown was a deep stain on its good name.

Forensic experts are presently digging in the area in search for one of the so-called Disappeared, Joe Lynskey, who went missing from west Belfast in August 1972.

The scene is close to Oristown Bog where the remains of 23-year-old Brendan Megraw were recovered last year.

Bishop Smith, at the close of a confirmation ceremony in the parish, urged anyone in the community who knew the whereabouts of victims' remains to come forward.

"Sadly there may be people in the area that have information which would help in bringing closure to this sorry saga," he said.

"In these circumstances that anyone in a position to relieve the suffering and pain of the families would refuse to do is a challenge to their conscience. They will ultimately be accountable before God."

Bishop Smith said the IRA's abducting, murdering and secretly burying victims had brought immense pain and suffering to extended families over the past 40 years.

"All the families want is to give their loved ones a decent Christian burial," he said.

"No retribution is suffered by anyone giving information since a law enacted both here and in Britain protects them."

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) was set up by the British and Irish governments in the wake of the Good Friday peace agreement.

It is tasked with investigating the cases of 16 people killed and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

To date the remains of 10 people have been recovered.

All information passed to the commission is confidential and cannot be used in criminal prosecutions

After getting fresh information, the commission is focusing on a 15 acre bogland site at Coghalstown, near Oristown, where they are confident former Cistercian monk Mr Lynskey is secretly buried.

Geoff Knupfer, who also helped find the bodies of the victims of Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, is leading the latest search.

The forensic detective has also appealed for more information, pledging a guarantee of complete confidentiality.

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