Northern Ireland

Disappeared search for Columba McVeigh ends in failure

Columba McVeigh Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Columba McVeigh was murdered by the IRA in 1975

A sixth search for the body of IRA murder victim Columba McVeigh - one of the group known as the Disappeared - has ended in failure, his family says.

The 19-year-old man, from Donaghmore in County Tyrone, was kidnapped in 1975.

In the latest hunt for his body which began on 17 September, trees were cleared at Bragan Bog, County Monaghan. However, nothing was found.

His family said they were "devastated" and have appealed for information.

His brother, Oliver McVeigh, said that the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) was doing everything in its power, but they needed more details.

"There are people out there who have the information and they haven't come forward and I can't understand why," he said.

"They have nothing to gain by keeping their secret and nothing to lose by telling the commission what they know. They know the information is confidential. Why do they continue to torture a family like this?"

Columba's sister Dympna said: "Our mother went to her grave unable to tend the grave of her son.

"If the people who know where Columba is buried could have seen what that did to my mother, if they could imagine their own mother in that position they could not stay silent if they had any human feelings at all.

"Let us bring Columba home and end this torment."

The family has released the final letter that Columba wrote to his mother in September 1975, weeks before he was killed. In it, he describes seeing the funeral of Irish president Eamon de Valera in Dublin. He ends with: "God bless and take care, from your big son, Columba".

Seven 'still missing'

Sandra McPeake from the Wave Trauma Centre, a group that supports families of the Disappeared, said: "It is a cruel irony that just as Richard Haass is looking at ways of dealing with the past, a family is forced to endure more pain even though there is a process through the IVLCR already in place to deal with this terrible legacy of the Troubles."

The first search for Columba McVeigh began 14 years ago. There have been a number of searches at Bragan Bog near Emyvale.

Columba's mother, Vera McVeigh, campaigned tirelessly for the return of his body. She died in 2007, aged 82.

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

In 1999, the British and Irish governments established the commission in an effort to gain confidential information about the location of their bodies.

There are 16 people on the ICLVR list of the Disappeared. So far, nine bodies have been recovered. The remaining seven are Joe Lynskey; Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Capt. Robert Nairac, Brendan Megraw, Seamus Ruddy and Columba McVeigh.

The Provisional IRA admitted responsibility for 13 of the 16, while one was admitted by the INLA. No attribution has been given for the remaining two.

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