Editor's Viewpoint: Columba McVeigh's family deserve closure
The Troubles have brought us many wretched sights of carnage, destruction and of enduring human suffering and grief, but among the most piteous are those of the prolonged searches across desolate boglands and beaches for the remains of the Disappeared.
Now the latest bid to find the body of Columba McVeigh has been called off, some 44 years after he was cruelly abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the Provisional IRA.
Understandably his family are utterly distraught, and the words of his sister Dympna summarise the feelings of all of us. She said: "All we want is for him to be brought home to be buried alongside his father and mother, so that they and he can rest in peace. Why is that too much to ask? What have we done to deserve this inhumane treatment?"
The family's distress shows a very human need to say goodbye to their loved one, and to give him a Christian burial. They need a grave to visit as a tangible focus for their grief.
It would take a heart of stone not to sympathise with their plight, and to want to do everything possible in human terms to help lift the burden they have carried for so long, and to end their agony.
Sadly, the McVeighs can only wait and hope. The need for truth is a primal emotion for those relatives grievously bereaved or deeply hurt, or both, during the long, dark years of the Troubles, and the numbers affected run into thousands.
The relatives ask for revelations, but in reality who is going to admit publicly their role in such foul deeds? However, somebody, somewhere, still knows where the remains of Columba McVeigh are buried, and the very least they can do is to assist the authorities in providing more detailed evidence of the areas where the Disappeared are buried.
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The McVeigh family, like so many others, now badly need closure, and perhaps only those directly involved can know the depth of their agonies.
We often refer to the people in those lonely graves as the 'Disappeared', but they were human beings like ourselves whose lives were callously and abruptly ended.
Every effort must continue to find their remains and to treat their memory with the utmost respect they deserve.