Funeral of Disappeared victim Kevin McKee 'helps heal 43 years of pain'
The funeral for a teenager kidnapped, killed and secretly buried by the IRA has helped heal more than four decades of pain, mourners have been told.
Kevin McKee's sisters choked back tears as, 43 years after his murder, they carried his coffin into St Peter's Cathedral in West Belfast.
Priest Fr Michael Murtagh said: "It is important to have a Christian burial, but when you are doing it 43 years late it can take on a whole new meaning.
"It is important for Kevin and it is important for his family that we do this and we do it well."
Mr McKee, who was abducted shortly before his 17th birthday, and Seamus Wright, 25, both vanished in Belfast in October 1972.
The IRA shot them on suspicion they were working as British agents.
Their remains were found in a single shallow grave on reclaimed bog land in Coghalstown, Co Meath, in June during a dig to find a third man killed and "Disappeared" by the IRA.
Mr McKee was remembered as a keen footballer, budding artist and devoted older brother.
His disappearance took its toll on each family member, the priest said.
"We acknowledge 43 years of pain, of wondering, of uncertainty and not knowing what had happened.
"We acknowledge that at times there were very few to turn to and it was a lonely road for them to travel.
"You lost Kevin but also lost a place to remember him. You did not get a burial. You did not know where he was; you did not know whether he was alive or not."
The hunt for the Disappeared has been overseen by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) - an independent body set up during the peace process to find 16 victims secretly buried by republicans.
Their relatives carried candles to the front of the church as each name was read out during the service.
The ICLVR was on site for several months this year searching for the remains of former Cistercian monk Joe Lynskey when the two other bodies were found.
It is also only a few miles from where the body of Brendan Megraw was discovered last year following searches at Oristown, Co Meath.
The searches for Mr Lynskey have to date been unsuccessful.
Fr Murtagh commended the process set up to locate the "Disappeared".
He said: "It is part of our sometimes faltering peace process that is working."
Afterwards two of Mr McKee's sisters released white doves while other relatives clutched photographs of the teenager and his mother, Mary, whom he will be buried beside at Blaris cemetery in Lisburn, Co Antrim.