Suspected IRA victim remains moved from Wicklow mountain
The family of IRA victim Danny McElhone were today hoping to finally give him a Christian burial as the last of his suspected remains were taken from a hillside.
Forensic detectives believe they have now recovered the west Belfast man's entire remains from a remote bogland site in the Wicklow Mountains.
In a statement, Mr McElhone's family said they were praying their agonising 27-year wait for the return of his body was coming to an end.
``It seems likely that they are the remains of our late beloved brother Danny but, unfortunately, the authorities have confirmed that they will be unable to verify this categorically for a further four weeks,'' they said.
``We sincerely hope and pray that these are the remains of Danny and that their discovery will allow us to afford Danny a proper Christian burial and to finally lay him to rest.''
Investigators found a human foot, a boot and a sock at Ballynultagh, on the side of Wicklow's second highest peak, Mullaghcleevaun, near the village of Lacken nine days ago.
After a painstaking excavation of the site, the remainder of the suspected remains was today taken in a black hearse to the State Pathologist offices in Dublin.
More samples will be taken and sent to a special DNA database in England that contains the genetic codes of families of the so-called Disappeared, victims murdered and secretly buried during the Troubles.
It is hoped this will provide a match with samples already taken from the McElhone family and positively identify the remains as that of the teenager who vanished in 1981.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), which is leading the search, said its work at the Wicklow site was now complete.