Belfast Telegraph

Tributes are paid to widow who fought to find the Disappeared

Kathleen Armstrong
Kathleen Armstrong
Kathleen's husband Charlie Armstrong who went missing on his way to Mass in 1981
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

A widow who became a "quiet but powerful campaigner for the Disappeared" has died.

Kathleen Armstrong, who was 90, passed away peacefully in the early hours of yesterday morning in a nursing home in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh.

Her husband Charlie was killed and secretly buried by republicans.

He disappeared on his way to Mass in Crossmaglen in August 1981.

It was not until July 2010 that his remains were found in a bog at Colgagh, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR).

Actor James Nesbitt, a patron of the Wave Trauma Centre and supporter of the Families of the Disappeared, said he was "desperately saddened".

He described Mrs Armstrong as a "quiet but powerful campaigner for the Disappeared".

He said: "I've known Kathleen for many years and like all who met her including presidents and prime ministers it was her warmth, kindness and a deep spiritual presence that stayed with you forever after.

"Despite the almost unimaginable pain and grief of not only losing Charlie but for the best part of 30 years not knowing where he lay, she never let it get in the way of the compassion she felt and showed to others especially those who suffered the same pain and grief."

Sandra Peake, chief executive of the Wave Trauma Centre, said: "Kathleen was an exceptional woman of grace with a heart of gold. She was a woman of great faith and serenity.

"She never gave up hoping and praying that Charlie would be brought home.

"She never accused anyone or expressed bitterness.

"She was the absolute embodiment of fortitude and dignity in the face of an enduring tragedy," she added.

Geoff Knupfer the lead investigator of the ICLVR, said: "This is very sad news.

"Kathleen was a lovely woman and so gracious in all her dealings with the ICLVR.

"Everyone involved was so glad that we were able to return Charlie's remains for the Christian burial that had been denied for so long."

Mrs Armstrong is survived by her daughter Anna and sons Charles, Jim and Terry.

Mr Armstrong was one of the 16 people who were murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

The bodies of three of the victims - Donaghmore teenager Columba McVeigh, former monk Joe Lynskey and soldier Robert Nairac - are still missing.

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