Anne Morgan tells of republican death threat in search for remains of disappeared brother
The sister of a Disappeared victim of the Troubles has told how she defied a republican death threat to search for his remains.
Anne Morgan reflected on her 32-year quest to find her brother Seamus Ruddy, at a victim-focused event in Belfast.
Mr Ruddy, 32, from Newry, Co Down, was found buried in woodland at Pont-de-l'Arche, near Rouen in northern France, in May last year - three decades after he vanished.
The teacher was abducted in Paris in 1985 by republican paramilitary group the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army).
He was a former member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) - the political wing of the INLA - and it is believed he was murdered and secretly buried amid a dispute with INLA members about an arms dump.
Mrs Morgan told an audience gathered to hear the stories of victims of the conflict that, in the months after her brother's disappearance, a bag containing his clothes was found in the River Seine at Rouen.
She was asked by a French magistrate to travel over to identify the items, one of which was a top with two suspected bullet holes in the hood.
"We decided we would go," she said.
"Before we went we thought we'd ask the INLA, could they let us go. To this day I don't really know why we done that, but we did. In 1985 it was a totally different set-up than now.
"They told us if we went to Paris, a fella pointed at me and said, 'If you go to Paris you are dead and all of your family are under threat', and he said, 'You are not allowed to go to the media'.
"At that meeting I just said, 'I am looking for my brother and I will be going to Paris'.
"And myself and another brother, Sean, we did go to Paris and we did identify the clothes."
Mrs Morgan stressed how important it had been to finally find her brother's body last year.
"He's now around us and he's not so far away and it's just been so important to actually find and bring him home," she said.
"I think sometimes people don't realise how important a funeral is. After three days we bury our dead but we had to wait 32 years for this, and it's just been an awful, awful long journey."
Three of the 16 Disappeared victims - Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac - are still to be recovered.
Another relative who addressed Monday's event, hosted by Queen's University academic Professor John Barry, was the mother of Paul Quinn.
Mr Quinn was found beaten at farm buildings in Tullycoora, near Castleblayney, in October 2007.
His family said he had been involved in a dispute with individual IRA members, though Sinn Fein has always denied the involvement of republicans.
His mother Breege Quinn broke down as she recalled what the doctor said to her when he died in hospital.
"They took him into the shed, they tied him up and they broke every bone in his body," she said.
"Half his ear was hanging off, bones were sticking out and whenever they left they sprayed the place with disinfectant.
"The doctor came out and shook our hands and said, 'they left nothing to fix, they left nothing to fix'."
Mrs Quinn said she sees people she believes were involved in the murder on a daily basis.
"We are here still fighting to get justice for Paul and it's a very, very hard road," she added.
Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond McCord Jnr was beaten to death by an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang in 1997, also recounted his story.
The killing has long been mired in controversy amid claims that loyalists who were also working as police agents were involved.
There have been further allegations that police handlers were informed of the plan to kill Mr McCord but did not prevent it.
His father told the event: "My agenda is very simple - to get truth and justice for my son.
"He's dead because of collusion and people continue to be allowed to get away with it. We shouldn't need to be doing this today. The killers - so-called loyalists or so-called republicans - they should be in prison.
"Whoever has been murdered in this country, by paramilitaries or security forces, they should be charged with it and locked up for good."
Belfast Telegraph Digital