Seamus Ruddy: Fresh search in French forest for man murdered by INLA

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Seamus RuddyImage source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
The remains of Seamus Ruddy have never been found

A fresh search is due to get under way in France for the remains of one of Northern Ireland's Disappeared.

Seamus Ruddy, 32, was abducted in Paris by republican paramilitaries, the INLA, in 1985.

He was murdered and secretly buried in France.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains said a fresh search would begin on Tuesday at a forest at Pont-de-l'Arche outside Rouen in northern France.

There have been three previous searches in the area, the most recent one was in 2008.

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland's Troubles.

Mr Ruddy was originally from Newry and was teaching in Paris when he was murdered on 9 May 1985. His sister, Anne Morgan, was the last family member to see him alive.

She told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme the family was being careful not to get their hopes built up too high.

"We've been disappointed on so many occasions before," she said.

"I hope to travel to France this week and I will be there for a few days.

"I think it's important just to be in the forest, maybe at the beginning of the search, then I'll be posted by my phone for the next month."

'Last moments'

Ms Morgan has been to the forest on two occasions before.

"I know the lay of the land and the area they will go to," she said.

"We have to put all the agony and the hurt away when we do visit the forest, we can't think about Seamus and his last moments there, we have to focus on the efforts to find him."

Geoff Knupfer who heads the team that found three other Disappeared, Brendan Megraw in 2014 and Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright in 2015, said that he was satisfied that the information they had was "as accurate as it can be, given the passage of time".

"I am convinced that there is a genuine desire on the part of those supplying the information to get this resolved by finding where Seamus is buried," he said.

"As in other cases, fresh information that refines what we already know is crucial. Everyone we have found to date has been in the area where we were told that they were. It is always a question of narrowing that down to a precise location.

"I really hope that we can do this again and find him".

Mr Knupfer said this was a more defined search area in a forest and was a much smaller search area than Oristown and Coghalson where Brendan Megraw, Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright were buried.

This should make the search faster.

Joint UK and Irish Commissioners Sir Ken Bloomfield and Frank Murray said that they hoped the search would be successful and that the remains of Seamus Ruddy would be returned to his family for Christian burial.

"We share the hopes and prayers of the family that we'll be successful. We know that the team led by Geoff are world leaders in this work and they will bring all their experience and commitment to try to bring this search to a successful conclusion," they said.

Seamus Ruddy is one of four people out of 16 whose bodies have never been found. The others are Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Captain Robert Nairac.