Belfast Telegraph

Family of Disappeared victim Columba McVeigh '100% certain' body lies buried at search site

By Lesley-Anne Mckeown

The family of Disappeared victim Columba McVeigh is “100% certain” his body is buried in land being searched in fresh excavations.

Oliver McVeigh spoke on the ongoing distress for his family as a new search began to try and locate the remains of his brother Columba.

The 17-year-old, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, was abducted and murdered by the IRA in October 1975.

On Sunday excavation teams began a dig at Bragan, Co Monaghan, after receiving fresh information.

It is understood the search is being concentrated on an area close to the border with counties Tyrone and Fermanagh that was planted with trees around the time of the murder.

The area in the north of the county has been searched several times already. In 2003, a dig was carried out at a bog in Emyvale, Co Monaghan, but nothing was found.

Last June, DNA tests were carried out on remains taken from a graveyard in Scotstown. However, the results showed it was not Mr McVeigh.

Yesterday, Oliver McVeigh said he was convinced his brother’s body was in the area currently being examined.

“We are 100% certain but it's just a question of locating the spot in this bog,” he said.

“It's still a big strain on the family and it was his mother Vera's wish to find her son that has kept us going.

“I can still see the anguish on her face. It will never leave me.”

Vera McVeigh, who campaigned tirelessly for the return of her son's body, died in 2007, aged 82.

Geoff Knuffer, who is leading the search,

said it was a painstaking process. “I think we are satisfied that he was buried in that area,” he said. “Really it is a big peat bog land and it is all well and good saying he’s out there somewhere but, it is the somewhere that is important.”

To date, 16 bodies of the Disappeared have been found — seven have been located since 1999 when the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) was established in a treaty between the British and Irish governments.

The most recent discovery of one of the Disappeared came in November last year when the remains of 21-year-old Peter Wilson were found at Waterfoot beach in Co Antrim.

Mr Wilson went missing from his home in west Belfast in 1973.

Anna McShane, daughter of 57-year-old south Armagh man Charlie Armstrong whose body was recovered in 2010, said: “Over the years we held out little hope that we would ever recover our father’s body. We have been finally able to lay our dear father to rest.”

Factfile

The disappeared:

  • Joe Lynskey
  • Seamus Wright
  • Kevin McKee
  • Jean McConville (recovered 2003)
  • Peter Wilson (recovered 2010)
  • Eamon Molloy (recovered 1999)
  • Columba McVeigh
  • Cpt Robert Nairac
  • Brendan Megraw
  • John McClory (recovered 1999)
  • Brian McKinney (recovered 1999)
  • Gerald Evans (recovered 2010)
  • Eugene Simons* (recovered 1984)
  • Charlie Armstrong (recovered 2010)
  • Danny McIlhone (recovered 2008)
  • Seamus Ruddy

*before ICLVR established

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