Northern Ireland

The Disappeared: Columba McVeigh's sister makes new plea to find bodies

The families laid a wreath adorned with three lilies, one for each of the victims who are yet to be found
Image caption The families laid a wreath adorned with three lilies, one for each of the victims who are yet to be found

A fresh appeal to find the last three missing victims of the Troubles has been made by the sister of one of the Disappeared at an annual commemoration.

Columba McVeigh was one of 16 murder victims known as the Disappeared, who were all killed and secretly buried by republicans.

Most of the bodies have been found, but Mr McVeigh; ex-monk Joe Lynskey and soldier Robert Nairac remain missing.

Mr McVeigh's sister Dympna Kerr asked for help to hold "Christian burials".

Ms Kerr pleaded for new information on the whereabouts of all three men as she joined relatives of other Disappeared victims on their annual silent walk to Stormont.

Her brother, from Donaghmore, County Tyrone, was 19 when he was abducted by the IRA in November 1975.

Image caption Dympna Kerr said the latest failure to find her brother was the hardest one to deal with

Several searches for the teenager's body have been carried out at Bragan Bog in County Monaghan by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR).

The latest search ended without success in September, adding to the family's ongoing "torment".

'Heartbreaking'

Ms Kerr told BBC Newsline that she was still hopeful someone will hear her plea and give them the information they need to locate all three bodies.

"Our aim as a family, the McVeigh family, is to get Columba's body returned for a Christian burial in Donaghmore and put him in beside our mum and dad," she said.

"As long as we're coming here today to get this message out to people - maybe, maybe the right person will hear it and that person will come forward and give the information that we require to do that for the three that remain disappeared."

She became emotional as she explained that the failure of the latest search for her brother was "the hardest one to deal with".

"I really, really believed that we were going to find him. It was heartbreaking when we didn't."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Columba McVeigh, 19, from Donaghmore, County Tyrone, was kidnapped in November 1975

Ms Kerr added that her family will "keep going" with their campaign and continue to seek information.

She helped to jointly lay a wreath at the steps of Parliament Buildings in memory of the Disappeared.

The wreath was adorned with three lilies, one for each of the victims who are yet to be found.

The families also placed photographs of Mr Veigh, Mr Lynskey and Capt Nairac on the steps.

Image caption The families stood in silence after laying the wreath at Stormont

Mr Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk, who later joined the IRA.

He was abducted and murdered by the paramilitary group in 1972.

Capt Nairac was on an undercover operation in a pub in south Armagh in 1977 when he went missing.

It is believed he was abducted, beaten and then shot dead by the IRA.

The ICLVR was set up shortly after the Good Friday Agreement to obtain information that may lead to where the bodies of the Disappeared are buried.

Information it receives is strictly confidential and cannot be passed to other agencies or used in prosecutions.

In May, it emerged a reward of almost £50,000 is being offered for new information that results in finding the bodies of the Disappeared.

The anonymous donation of $60,000 (£47,191) was given to the independent UK charity Crimestoppers.

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