Friday 24 November 2017

Bodies exhumed in search for teenage IRA victim

Tom Brady and Patsy McArdle

THE remains of two people, possibly including those of a teenage victim of the IRA, were exhumed from a grave yesterday. The operation was part of a lengthy search for the bodies of terrorist victims, known as the 'disappeared'.

The excavation was carried out in a bid to find the body of a teenager murdered by the Provisional IRA 36 years ago.

Columba McVeigh, who was 17 years of age when he was abducted and killed by the Provisionals in October 1975, was from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone.

Yesterday's dig took place at Urbleshanny cemetery, near Scotstown, Co Monaghan, at the behest of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains.

It was set up to help find the bodies of the "disappeared", a group of people killed by terrorist groups, including the IRA and the INLA.

Last December, a Fermanagh-based priest, Fr Joe McVeigh, revealed that he had been told by an "old-style republican" that a body had been buried secretly in a grave in the cemetery.

He was told the body was badly decomposed and had been placed in a plywood box at a shallow level in the grave.

The discovery had been made in 1980 when the remains of a second person, who had died in England, were being legitimately buried in the plot, he added.

Fr McVeigh said that despite the find, the burial went ahead and the coffin of the second person was put on top of the makeshift box. The gravedigger had confirmed this to him.


Initial checks were carried out by the commission but it did not seek a dig at the cemetery at the time as it had been assured by the IRA that none of their victims had been buried there.

Dr Martin Watters, coroner for north Monaghan, confirmed he had authorised the exhumation from the grave to allow the remains to be identified.

Last night it was confirmed that the remains of two people had been exhumed and taken to Dublin for detailed examination by the state pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, and an anthropologist.

The examination is expected to take some time as the experts attempt to determine if the remains are those of Columba McVeigh and the person legitimately buried in the grave.

Irish Independent

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