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Gardai begin dig for body of ‘disappeared’ after tip off

The exhumation of a body from a churchyard cemetery has been ordered after a tip-off that the grave may have been used to bury a teenage IRA victim more than 35 years ago.

The site in Co Monaghan is in the same region were several digs have taken place in the search for Columba McVeigh, a 17-year-old abducted and murdered in October 1975.

He is one of the so-called Disappeared of the Troubles.

Dr Martin Watters, the coroner in north Monaghan, confirmed he authorised the exhumation from a named grave in a cemetery next to a church in Urbleshanny, near Scotstown.

"In the recent past I gave the go ahead for an exhumation to identify the remains within that grave," he said.

"It was an official grave with the graveyard."

A Garda spokesman said detectives and officials in the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains received information about a body buried in a grave where another set of remains is interred.

"The purpose of the exhumation is to carry out a forensic examination to establish if a victim that comes within the remit of the Commission was buried at this location," the spokesman said.

State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, a forensic anthropologist, commission staff and scientists were on site for the exhumation.

The Garda spokesman cautioned that subsequent forensic examination of the remains will take some time.

Mr McVeigh was from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was abducted and murdered by the IRA in October 1975.

Despite extensive searches in Co Monaghan, his remains have yet to be found. His mother had campaigned tirelessly on her son's case before her death in 2007.