Belfast Telegraph

Brother of Disappeared teen hopeful 35 years of searching is finally over

By Connla Young

The brother of a teenager shot dead and secretly buried by the IRA has said he hopes that a 35-year wait for the remains to be discovered could soon be over.

Gardai believe remains removed from a Co Monaghan graveyard yesterday may be those of missing Co Tyrone teenager Columba McVeigh.

And last night the dead teenager's brother Oliver McVeigh spoke of his hope that his family might finally find peace after 35 years of searching for the missing teenager's body.

The 17-year-old, who was suspected by the IRA of being an informer, was shot and secretly buried in October 1975.

Gardai and a team of scientists continued the hunt for his remains yesterday when they exhumed a body from a grave at Urbleshanny close to the Tyrone/Monaghan border at Scotstown.

The graveyard was sealed off while the remains were exhumed as officials representing the Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains looked on. The search comes just months after campaigning Fermanagh priest, Fr Joe McVeigh, revealed that he had been given information that a body had been buried in a shallow grave at Urbleshanny Church.

At the time he said the grave was discovered in 1980 when the remains of a person who had died in England were being buried in the plot.

The McVeigh family has long believed the teenager was secretly buried in the Bragan Bog area of north Monaghan, a short distance from yesterday's dig, and the scene of previous searches for his remains.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Oliver McVeigh said: "They are following up on some information but can't be sure until DNA tests are carried out. New information came to light a few months ago.

"We are hopeful, but until we have DNA evidence we will not know. Bragan is where he was allegedly buried and that's two or three miles away. It's two or three minutes away from where they are digging now."

Columba McVeigh, from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, was just 17 when was abducted and murdered by the IRA in October 1975 after republicans began to suspect he was working as an informer. For several years after he vanished his parents believed he had run off with a girlfriend.

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