Belfast Telegraph

Body remains not Disappeared victim

A body exhumed from a cemetery in the long-running search for a teenage IRA victim murdered without trace in 1975 is not one of the so-called Disappeared.

Forensic tests revealed skeletal remains taken from a graveyard in the Irish Republic are not those of Columba McVeigh.

A family plot beside Urbleshanny Church, near Scotstown, in Co Monaghan was opened in June after a tip-off from a priest that there may have been a secret burial in the grave.

Relatives of Columba McVeigh had hoped the latest dig would bring an end to their near 36-year search for answers over his killing and disappearance.

Frank Murray and Sir Ken Bloomfield, commissioners of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR), said DNA tests showed the remains are not linked to any of the Disappeared.

Fifteen men and one woman were murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Northern Ireland Troubles. Nine bodies have been recovered. One of the dead, Eugene Simons, was found in 1984, three years after his murder, while eight others have been recovered since the commission was set up in 1999.

Mr McVeigh was from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was abducted and murdered by the IRA in Dublin in October 1975. Despite extensive searches in Co Monaghan, his remains have yet to be found. His mother had campaigned tirelessly on her son's case before her death in 2007.

The ICLVR commissioners added: "Nothing suspicious or that requires further Garda or ICLVR investigation was discovered during the exhumation or subsequent forensic examination. The remains removed will be re-interred in due course."

Oliver McVeigh, Columba's brother, said the commissioners would be going back to original sources to try to establish more detail. He said: "I'm not surprised but disappointed, tinged with disappointment. I had that wee glimmer of hope even though they (investigators) were fairly confident that it was not him.

"They were leaving no stone unturned to try and recover his remains. It had to be eliminated before trying to move on and look for more information. It's back to square one."

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