Archbishop urges people to share secrets on IRA's 'Disappeared' to end families' grief
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has urged anyone "with secrets about where the IRA's 'Disappeared' victims are buried", to come forward.
Archbishop Eamon Martin held a special mass for the families of the Disappeared on Palm Sunday at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.
The Disappeared refer to people who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA during the Troubles.
Archbishop Martain said that there are trustworthy people within society and the Church that can "accept and sensitively share information" in the absence of formally established mechanisms.
Twelve of the 16 bodies on the official list of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) have been recovered.
But the remains of Joseph Lynskey, SAS-trained Captain Robert Nairac, Seamus Ruddy and Columba McVeigh are yet to be found, despite years of extensive searches.
Archbishop Martin said there was an urgent need to develop truth-telling mechanisms about the past violence.
He added: “There must be so many people walking around today who know in their hearts that the information that they have locked down inside them is capable of unlocking the uncertainty and grief of families.”
The hunt has been led by the ICLVR, a body set up by the British and Irish governments during the peace process to obtain information in strictest confidence that may lead to where the bodies are buried.
Archbishop Martin added: “For our part, we need to find a mechanism of truth and information retrieval which will allow more of these people to come forward so that many more families can be set free from the agony of waiting and wondering, ‘why?’
“Even in the absence of a formal mechanism, I am confident that there are trustworthy people in society and in the churches who would be willing, and could be empowered and enabled, to accept and sensitively share information in this regard.”
During his sermon, Archbishop Martin acknowledged that many people are tormented with anguish and uncertainty about what happened during the Troubles.
"There are people on all sides who carry secrets - memories of their own involvement in the deaths and injury of thousands of men, women and children," he said.
"In some cases they pulled the trigger, planted the bomb, blindly followed orders or gave the command for death or punishment. In other cases they willingly drove a car, kept watch, spread fear, collected money or information, sheltered combatants, colluded or covered up, destroyed evidence or intimidated witnesses.
"These were awful, terrible times."