Northern Ireland

Seamus Ruddy's family have 'mixed emotions' after human remains find

A forensic tent has been placed at the site where human remains were found in Foret Domaniale on Saturday
Image caption A forensic tent has been placed at the site where human remains were found in Foret Domaniale, Rouen

The family of the Disappeared victim, Seamus Ruddy, have expressed mixed emotions after human remains were found during a new search for him in France.

Mr Ruddy, 33, was murdered and secretly buried in 1985 by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

On Saturday, investigators found human remains near Rouen, although formal identification has yet to take place.

His sister, Anne Morgan, has thanked the team and the French authorities for facilitating the search.

Who were the Disappeared?

Search for Disappeared begins in France

Speaking from France, Mrs Morgan said her family was "delighted" by the discovery, but would now await the formal identification process.

"We just want to take Seamus home and give him a Christian burial with his parents, Molly and John."

She added that they were conscious that there are three other families of Disappeared victims who have yet to find their loved ones.

Chief investigator, Jon Hill, said Mrs Morgan was both upset and pleased when she was told.

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Media captionICLVR chief investigator Jon Hill said there were mixed emotions

She was the only member of the family to travel to the search site in France, and was on her way home when the news broke on Saturday morning.

Mr Hill said she has now been able to extend her stay in France, but has not yet been permitted to visit the scene of the discovery in Foret Domaniale, as recovery work is ongoing.

Image caption Anne Morgan and her husband visited the search site on Friday

Other members of the family were at home in Newry, County Down, when the discovery was confirmed.

Mr Ruddy's brother, Terry, said: "When I got the news this morning I could have danced and cried - and I did cry.

"I didn't quite dance, but it was a hugely emotional moment."

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Seamus Ruddy's siblings - Terry, Gertie and Kieran - spoke to Irish broadcaster RTÉ

Mr Ruddy was working as an English teacher in Paris when he went missing.

He was one of 16 people known as the Disappeared who were murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland's Troubles.

The INLA admitted responsibility for the killing 10 years after Mr Ruddy's death.

On Saturday, his siblings spoke to Irish broadcaster RTÉ as they gathered at their parents' grave in Newry.

Their missing brother's name was included on the gravestone some years ago - at their mother's request before her death.

Mr Ruddy's sister, Gertie, said she always believed his body would be found.

"I had a gut feeling this time," she said.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Seamus Ruddy has been missing for 32 years

This latest search began in France on Tuesday after new information was passed to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR).

Weapons dump

The organisation was set up after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, in a bid to relieve the torment of families who did not know what had become of their loved ones.

The new information it received was passed on by the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) - a political group linked to the INLA.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Seamus Ruddy's siblings gathered around their parents's grave on Saturday

Sources in the IRSP claim that before his death, Mr Ruddy went willingly with INLA members from Paris to the wooded area, where there was a weapons dump.

What happened among the group is not clear but Mr Ruddy was shot dead and secretly buried.

Standing in the Newry graveyard, another of his brothers, Kieran, indicated that the family had long accepted that he was dead.

"My mother went as far as to have his name inscribed on the headstone you see behind us," he said.

"That was her wish - that he would be remembered whether we found him or not."

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Seamus Ruddy's name was inscribed on his parents' gravestone some years ago

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