Disappeared victim Ruddy is laid to rest after 32 years
Relatives of a Co Down teacher murdered and secretly buried more than 30 years ago kept the longest of vigils as they waited for his body to be returned, mourners at his funeral heard.
Requiem Mass for Seamus Ruddy, one of the so-called Disappeared, was held in his home city of Newry at the weekend.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at St Catherine's Dominican Chapel to pay their final respects.
Mr Ruddy was abducted in Paris in 1985 by the INLA before being murdered and buried. His remains were recovered in a forest near Rouen in northern France last month.
Addressing mourners at Saturday's funeral, Bishop John McAreavey said Mr Ruddy's family had suffered years of not knowing his fate.
"Whatever about the circumstances of his death, one thing is certain - his death represented the snuffing-out of a life that had many wholesome qualities," he said. "It also cut off the promise of a new life in France.
"A family account of that time refers to letters and phone calls from Seamus, visits to him and plans to visit. And then, the account states: 'There was nothing'."
Mr Ruddy was a former member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the INLA. It is believed he was murdered amid a dispute with INLA members about an arms dump.
"In the years since his death Seamus's family and friends kept a long vigil," said Bishop McAreavey.
"They grieved and prayed, they appealed for public support, which they hoped would lead to the recovery of his remains."
He added: "On Thursday, Seamus's family and friends welcomed him home to Newry.
"They were finally able to do what they always wanted to do - to have a wake, to celebrate a funeral Mass for Seamus and to say a personal and dignified farewell to him through the funeral liturgy. And in the months and years ahead they will be able to visit the grave where Seamus lies."
Ahead of burying Mr Ruddy in Monks cemetery in Newry, where his parents John and Molly lie, his relatives were supported at the service by the families of other Disappeared victims.
Anne Morgan, the teacher's sister, said the other Disappeared relatives felt like part of her family, adding: "We will be forever grateful to you all."
Three of the 16 Disappeared - Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac - are still missing.