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'Our mother waited by the window for Seamus every day for 10 years'

Case study 3


Seamus Ruddy

Seamus Ruddy

Photopress Belfast

Search in France for Seamus Ruddy

Search in France for Seamus Ruddy


Seamus Ruddy

Anne Morgan's brother Seamus Ruddy was murdered and secretly buried in France in 1985. She said:

"The last time I saw my brother Seamus alive, we had a wonderful evening. I was a teacher in St Mary's High School and I was in Paris with my pupils on a trip. Seamus was teaching there. Our bus driver didn't know his way around so Seamus got on board and guided the tour. He was fantastic. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame - we saw them all.

We spent the evening in a cafe in Rue Saint-Denis. Seamus and I both ordered frogs' legs and laughed at the very idea of what we were eating. I treasure the photographs from that night. Little did I know it would be the last time I'd see my brother.

Seamus had been a member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP). He was very politically aware. That wasn't part of his life we shared.

We just looked on him as a brother, not as a member of any organisation. He was kind and funny and always made us laugh.

Seamus went missing on May 9, 1985. He didn't show up for work at school and he didn't phone home. We knew it was somehow linked to the IRSP.

Then the French police made contact to say children had found a black bag weighed down by stones which had been washed up in the River Seine. They believed it contained Seamus's clothes.

The INLA told us that if we went to Paris they'd kill us and put all our family under threat. We went anyway. I identified the clothes. It was the same jacket and shirt Seamus had been wearing in the photo from the night in Rue Saint-Denis.

The jacket had two bullet holes in the hood and was blood-stained. The INLA warned us that if we kept asking questions about Seamus or talked to the media, we'd be killed.

It wasn't until 1995 that they admitted killing Seamus. We all knew he was dead long before then, except my mother. She would put a chair by the window and sit waiting for him to turn the corner of the street. She waited every day for 10 years.

After the INLA statement, my mother put his name on a headstone. She was dead four months later.

I was determined to find Seamus's body. Coping with the search while still working as a teacher was impossible. So I left my job to focus on my brother.

Eventually, the INLA gave information to the authorities. They said Seamus was in a 500-acre forest near Pont-de-l'Arche in Normandy.

There was a dig for his body in 2000 and another in 2008. I went to France for both. It wasn't until the third dig last year that my brother was found. He was only four feet away from where they'd been searching in 2008. We'd actually been walking over him in that dig.

I look on 2017 as a great year for our family. After 32 years we finally brought Seamus home and buried him with our parents. He's around us now, not far away.

I try to be positive. Even the bad boys (INLA) helped and I appreciated it.

An inquest showed Seamus wasn't tied up when he was killed. I'd always imagined that his hands and feet had been bound.

It's a comfort to know he died standing. It helps me come to terms with it all."

Belfast Telegraph