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'Disappeared' bog search begins


Forensic investigators are scanning sections of Oristown bog for the remains of former west Belfast monk Joe Lynskey

Forensic investigators are scanning sections of Oristown bog for the remains of former west Belfast monk Joe Lynskey

Forensic investigators are scanning sections of Oristown bog for the remains of former west Belfast monk Joe Lynskey

Provisional searches for another of the IRA's "Disappeared" victims have started close to the same rural bog in the Irish Republic where weeks ago another body was found.

Specialist forensic investigators are scanning sections of land in the locality of Oristown bog, Co Meath, with radar for the remains of former west Belfast monk Joe Lynskey.

The move comes little over a month after the remains of another of the Disappeared, Brendan Megraw, were finally found in a drainage ditch in the middle of the bog 36 years after he vanished.

Mr Lynskey went missing in 1972 but it was only in 2010 when the IRA finally admitted to executing and secretly burying him.

A commissioner for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) said "new information" had prompted the search for his remains.

Commissioner Frank Murray said: "The Commission is now starting preliminary work, at a very early stage I must emphasise, in relation to Joe Lynskey."

He added: "Preliminary work has started and it's on-going as we speak.

"It involves scanning the ground but there is no date or idea exactly when we could do something in the way of a dig there.

"With the ground radar operation you need to get that data analysed scientifically and see if there is anything of interest, are there any anomalies in the ground that you have surveyed and then follow through on those.

"So we have to take it one step at a time."

Mr Murray and fellow commissioner Sir Kenneth Bloomfield joined with families of the Disappeared in Belfast today to renew their appeals for information that would help find their loved ones.

The commission, which was set up by the British and Irish governments in the wake of the Good Friday peace agreement, was tasked with investigating the cases of 16 people killed and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles. All information passed to the body is confidential and cannot be used in criminal prosecutions.

Mr Lynskey is one of six victims still to be found.

His niece Maria Lynskey said she was "heartened" that new searches were taking place.

"Joe was the first of the Disappeared, in '72, so he is 42 years missing," she said. "We didn't know until about four or five years ago that he was a Disappeared - we thought he was in America. That was a terrible shock."

Ms Lynskey said all the victims needed to be found for the sake of their families.

"I feel everybody is entitled to closure, they are all entitled to a respectful and dignified funeral, to be brought back to their own," she said.

"It's a cruel thing that has happened here for everybody.

"Even for the ones who have found their bodies it must be heart-breaking, bringing it all back."

It is suspected two more of the Disappeared - Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright - are buried in moorland only a few miles from the Oristown bog in an area near Wilkinstown, Co Meath.

A funeral for Mr Megraw will be held in his home town of Belfast next Friday.

The 23-year-old newlywed, who was awaiting the birth of his daughter, was abducted by the IRA in April 1978.

Mr Megraw's brother, Kieran, thanked all those who had supported the family over the years.

His remains were found at the start of October but their identity was only confirmed last week after DNA tests.

"It is hard to believe that we are eventually getting Brendan home next week and we will be able to bury him in Glenavy (Co Antrim) with his mum and dad," he said.

Sir Kenneth insisted the length of time it was taking to find all the victims was not because republicans were not co-operating.

"Obviously in many quarters there is scepticism about the attitude and role of the republican movement in all of this," he said.

"I have to say, speaking for myself, I don't feel that anybody has been trying deliberately to mislead us. We have got to realise these events took place 30 to 40 years ago, in the dead of night in some wild part of the country."

He stressed that identifying exact locations many decades on was difficult.