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Thursday 14 December 2017

Family glad of closure at inquest into 'disappeared'

Georgina O'Halloran

TWO of the so-called "disappeared" had unnatural and violent deaths at the hands of a paramilitary organisation, an inquest found yesterday.

The jury at the Dublin Coroner's Court returned verdicts of death by unlawful killing by a person or persons unknown at the inquests of Charles Armstrong and Gerard Evans.

The remains of nine of the "disappeared" have been recovered in searches by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR).

But the remains of a further seven victims have not been found, the ICLVR's Geoffrey Knupfer said.

The daughter of Mr Armstrong last night appealed for anyone with information to come forward and help other families who "still haven't got that peace of mind".

Speaking outside the court, Anna McShane said she was glad the inquest was over and that it had brought closure.

"Hopefully, maybe when people see the relief we've got, they will come forward and help other families," she said.

She said she believed her father, "was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. . . an innocent man. . ."

With regard to the people who killed her father, she said she "would give them the benefit of the doubt".

Mr Armstrong (54), from Rathview Park, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, a father of five, was abducted on his way to collect an elderly neighbour to bring her to Mass on August 16, 1981.

His car was found in Dundalk, Co Louth, the following day and firearms residue was detected on the front passenger seat and in the boot of the vehicle.

No weapon was ever found.

Mr Armstrong's partially clothed remains were discovered almost 30 years later in a wild and barren peat bog at Colgagh, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, weighed down with large stones.

He had no known connection with paramilitaries, his inquest heard yesterday.

In March 1999, the Provisional IRA had issued a statement listing the names of nine missing people and admitted involvement in their deaths.

That list did not include the names of Mr Armstrong or Mr Evans. But searches began after the commission received information about both men.


State Pathologist Marie Cassidy, who carried out a post-mortem on the skeletal remains of Mr Armstrong, was unable to establish a cause of death due to the interval between the death and the post-mortem.

A second inquest heard that the remains of Gerard 'Gerry' Evans were discovered in a flooded bog in a dig at Carrickrobin in Co Louth on October 15, 2010, close to a number of other burials.

The remains appeared to be weighed down with stones.

Mr Evans (24), who was also from Rathview Park, was last seen by his aunt Bernie McGeown in a pub in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, on March 25, 1979.

Mr Evans, a father of two, who had no known links to paramilitaries, never returned home.

A post-mortem by Prof Cassidy was unable to determine a cause of death.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for either of the men's deaths.

Irish Independent

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