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Just like Ian Brady, killers of Lisa Dorrian deny family news of her whereabouts

The relatives of Northern Ireland's Disappeared know only too well the agonies inflicted on Keith Bennett's family by Ian Brady, writes Henry McDonald


Murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian

Murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian

Keith Bennett, whose remains are still missing

Keith Bennett, whose remains are still missing


Murdered Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian

Someone I know on Facebook posted a suggestion in the wake of paedophile-murderer Ian Brady's death that the killer's wretched remains should be buried in secret on Saddleworth Moor and no one should be made aware of their whereabouts.

Naively perhaps, he seemed to think this would be some kind of perverse revenge for Brady's stubborn and cruel refusal over the decades to reveal the location of where he had buried one his victims - the 12-year-old school boy Keith Bennett and the only child victim of his and Myra Hindley's whose body has never been found.

Although you can understand the visceral need for revenge, even retrospective vengeance, the demand that what was left of Brady be secreted like his young victims on that same isolated part of the South Pennines where he and Hindley left four of the children they tortured and murdered, appeared pointless.

Brady had no relatives or at least no one has come forward wanting to be associated through ties of blood with the vile child murderer. Indeed, the coroner investigating his death from obstructive pulmonary disease on Monday ruled that his body won't be released until it's confirmed his remains will not be scattered on the Moors.

The five victims of Brady and Hindley - Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans - were aged between 10 and 17.

Five decades on and Keith Bennett has still not been found, despite the belief Brady always knew the location of the 12-year-old's burial site on the Moors, in the same area where he buried three other children.

Although in his final years Brady was probably a withered and spectral version of that arrogant, slick-back haired sado-narcissist of the early 60s, that image of him alongside the bottle blonde mugshot of Hindley remains one of the iconic pictures of evil from our post-war world. The duo's photographic cold detachment represented both an echo back to the world war just past - like those blank faces of the Nazi death camp murderers who personified Hannah Arendt's 'Banality of Evil' - but also a sobering, wake up call to a smug, soporific new Britain that pretended such things now only happened in other less civilised countries.

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An elderly relative of mine who lived most of her life in southern Ireland used to conjure up the Brady/Hindley demons when denouncing the 'immorality' and 'Godlessness' of England, comparing that country with the more innocent, holy and devout Ireland where such abominations of course would never occur.

She died before the Troubles took hold and long, long before the deluge of dirt and scandal over the industrial-scale abuse of children engulfed the Irish Catholic Church and helped undermine its bishops and cardinals' political influence on this island.

Reading and watching the reports this week about Brady and, in particular, the fate of the still missing Keith Bennett, and that image of this poor boy in his round penny spectacles, blonde hair and toothy smile, reminded this writer about the enduring, universal power of the 'banality of evil'.

It also reminded us not to forget the forgotten, the missing, the disappeared.

Last week, amid the relief and the sadness over the discovery of ex-INLA member Seamus Ruddy's remains in a northern French forest, a number of others still 'disappeared' were recalled. They included Captain Robert Nairac, the British soldier kidnapped, killed and buried in secret by the South Armagh IRA.

They also included Columba McVeigh whose family still have not been able to give the Dungannon man a Christian burial since, as a 17-year-old, he disappeared in 1975 after 'confessing' that he was a British agent.

One of those missing from the list of four still categorised as 'disappeared' was a young woman whose last image to be seen on this earth should be as arresting and iconic as that poignant picture of Keith Bennett from an England long gone, back in the early 60s. She is Lisa Dorrian.

In 2005 Lisa vanished between February 27 and 28 of that year, supposedly after a party at a caravan park in Ballyhalbert, Co Down. Within weeks of her disappearance the Police Service of Northern Ireland concluded that Lisa had been killed, but had no idea as to where she may be buried. There were land, air and sea searches for the young blonde woman, yet her remains have never been found. Sadly, she has become the forgotten one among the 'disappeared' - a victim not of republican paramilitaries but rather men with Ulster loyalist paramilitary connections on the North Down coast and in East Belfast who, for over a decade, have been able to impose a code of Omertà on those who might have information about where her body was dumped.

Just as the Moors became synonymous with the murdered and buried child victims of the Brady-Hindley axis of evil, that corner of North Down from where Lisa vanished should forever be associated with the place where a beautiful but vulnerable young girl was killed and her body was so cynically concealed from her family.

Just as that last picture of poor Keith Bennett still has the power to shock and revolt, so should that final image of Lisa Dorrian haunt anyone who still has even a scintilla of information about what happened to her 12 years ago.

Ian Brady ended his miserable, undeserving life without offering to help in any way Keith Bennett's family bring some closure to their torment. Although it doesn't have the same potential perhaps to shock as a child torture killing, the unresolved trauma weighing down on the Dorrian family, who are still seeking answers after all these years, should be an unbearable burden on those maintaining a vow of silence about this vile post-Troubles crime.

Do they really want to leave the Dorrians in the same tortuous uncertainty as Brady left the Bennett family? Or do they who hold such knowledge think they can differentiate between joining the rest of society in saying good riddance to a monster like Brady but at the same time staying loyal to the psycho-killers who took the life of a young woman and who since have hidden her body from her grieving loved ones for so long?

The last photo of Lisa shows her in a pair of furry moonboots in the kitchen of her flat in Bangor's Balmoral area in the week leading up to her disappearance. She never went anywhere without these boots, but, poignantly, this was dictated not by fashion but embarrassment. Five years previously, she fell on an escalator in a Bangor shopping centre and suffered terrible injuries to both legs.

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