Belfast Telegraph

Body found in search for 'Disappeared'

Human remains have been discovered in the search for the body of one of the 'Disappeared', Belfast man Peter Wilson.

Archaeologists and other experts are carrying out a painstaking examination in the seaside village of Waterfoot in the Glens of Antrim.

Mr Wilson, 21, who had learning disabilities, left his home in the Beechmount area of west Belfast in August 1973 and was never seen again.

Fifteen men and one woman disappeared during the Troubles and their families fear they were killed by republicans.

A spokesman for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) said: "The ICLVR in its search for the body of Peter Wilson has found human remains at a site in Waterfoot in County Antrim.

"The recovery is ongoing and the formal identification process will take some time. The family of Mr Wilson and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have been informed."

Mr Wilson's family believes the IRA was responsible for the murder although the organisation's leadership has never officially admitted the killing.

The new search by the 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.

The commission has so far found eight bodies at rural sites in the Republic and is still actively looking for eight more. The latest excavation is the first search undertaken in Northern Ireland and the first in a populated area.

Patricia Gearon, sister of Mr Wilson, carried a wreath today in a silent walk at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, for the disappeared.

Other victims' families attending included Kathleen Armstrong, who carried a black wreath with white lilies symbolising those who have not been found. This year she removed one of the lilies following the recovery of the body of her husband Charlie in July.

Mrs Armstrong and her family were accompanied by friend and neighbour Mary Evans, who is awaiting DNA confirmation that remains found last month are that of her son Gerry.

Anne Morgan, whose brother Seamus Ruddy is thought to be buried in France, believes the silent walk is significant for the families.

"We carry the symbolic black wreath with the white lilies which represents those who are still missing. Our walk at Stormont each year is a reminder that our plight is ongoing and that every effort needs to be made to bring our loved ones home for Christian burial."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: "The reports that remains have been found at Waterfoot, County Antrim, where the Commission have been searching for St James man Peter Wilson is welcome news.

"My thoughts are with the Wilson family at this time and I would hope that confirmation would be speedy to ease the burden of the final wait the family will endure.

"I again would repeat my appeal that anyone with any information which might help other families locate remains and find closure should bring that information forward."

The Wilson family said: "This is a special day for our family - Peter has been missing for 37 years. For 37 years, we have missed him and have often wondered what happened.

"Today on 'All Souls Day' his body has been found; and while that does not tell us what happened at least now we will be able to give him a Christian burial.

"Right now it has not completely sunk in - we were hopeful when the dig began, but we did not expect a result so soon."

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