Belfast Telegraph

Tests show exhumed body is not IRA victim

By John Mylgrew

A body exhumed from a cemetery in the search for an IRA murder victim is not one of the so-called Disappeared.

Forensic tests carried out on samples of human remains taken from a graveyard in Co Monaghan have proved it is not the body of Columba McVeigh.

Mr McVeigh was 17 when he was abducted from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, and murdered by the IRA in 1975.

The Commission for the Location of Victims said: “The results indicate that the remains recovered from the grave are not related to any of the Disappeared.”

It said “nothing suspicious” or that “requires further investigation” was discovered. The remains removed will now be “re-interred in due course”.

The remains were taken from a cemetery close to Scotstown in June after Fermanagh priest Father Joe McVeigh told the authorities he had received a tip-off about a secret burial.

At the time Monaghan coroner Dr Martin Watters authorised the exhumation from a grave in the cemetery beside a church in Urbleshanny. During the investigation a state pathologist and scientists were all on-site for the exhumation.

Previous unsuccessful digs in search of the remains of Mr McVeigh had taken place nearby.

His brother Oliver said the family remains optimistic and was appealing for anyone with information to come forward. “I wasn't getting my hopes up, we're just very disappointed — we still have the same hope and we want to get the body recovered,” he said.

“I'm still disappointed. Next step is back to square one and keep appealing for information, we want these people to come forward and give information. What may seem insignificant could be crucial.”

He said his greatest mental anguish was thinking of his late mother’s grief.

“The search and the whole thing killed her four years ago — that’s my driving force. I don’t intend giving it up until my dying breath.”

Columba McVeigh's mother had tirelessly campaigned to find her son's body up until her death in 2007.

The most recent discovery of one of the Disappeared came in November last year when the remains of 21-year-old Peter Wilson were found at Waterfoot beach in Co Antrim.

Mr Wilson, who was described as a vulnerable person with learning difficulties, went missing from his home in west Belfast in 1973.


Columba McVeigh was 17 when he was abducted and murdered by the IRA in October 1975. Following previous searches for his body in 2003 at a bog in Emyvale, Co Monaghan, nothing was found. Mr McVeigh was one of the so-called Disappeared who were murdered by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles. Seven of the bodies have been found, but the others remain unaccounted for.

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