Wednesday 17 January 2018

Families of the IRA's missing victims forced to live in fear

Joe Lynskey, left, was killed and buried by the IRA in 1972
Joe Lynskey, left, was killed and buried by the IRA in 1972
Members of the Lynskey family visit the spot where the human remains were found
Members of the Lynskey family visit the spot where the human remains were found

Kevin Doyle and Brian Rowan

AT the WAVE Trauma Centre in north Belfast there are two rose gardens.

One is in memory of 'the Disappeared' who have been found: the other represents those still missing.

Now it appears that there will be a rose for Kevin McKee and Séamus Wright in the first, but there are still at least four families denied the right to give their loved ones a proper burial.

McKee and Wright have been missing since 1972 - but yesterday human remains were found in an area where they are believed to have been buried.

Of course, DNA tests will have to be carried out as part of the formal identification process but it has long been reported that they were secretly buried in a joint grave.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains has investigated 16 abductions and murders, and 10 bodies have been recovered so far.

Last March, investigators began digging for the remains of Joe Lynskey in Co Meath, saying they had narrowed the search area to 15 acres.

At the time the lead forensic scientist, Geoff Knupfer, stressed the task ahead would be difficult.

But we can only imagine the emotional trauma Mr Lynskey's family went through yesterday after initially thinking that his remains had been found.

It was only as gardaí were getting set to remove what they believed were his remains that they found more bones, suggesting they had actually unearthed Kevin McKee and Séamus Wright.

McKee was just 17-years-old when he went missing on October 2, 1972, alongside his IRA colleague Seamus Wright. The pair were accused of working as double agents with the British army.

The teenager was said to have been very close to his mother, sporty and a good artist. He had just become engaged to his girlfriend.

Kevin's sister Philomena has never given up hope of finding her beloved brother and described him as a "soft- hearted gentleman".

Wright was a 25-year-old married man who worked as an asphalt layer.

It is reported that Seamus was held prisoner for six weeks in South Armagh before he was shot dead.

Back in the dark decade of the 1970s, the intention was that the remains of the 'Disappeared' would never be found.

Their families lived in silence and fear - afraid to talk or to ask questions.

And it was only after the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement that things began to change - that the 'Disappeared' became part of the past and part of what had to be - and in some cases still has to be - answered.

Apart from Joe Lynskey, the remaining 'Disappeared' are Columba McVeigh, disappeared on November 1, 1975; Robert Nairac, disappeared in 1977; and Seamus Ruddy, disappeared on May 9, 1985.

There are roses in that WAVE garden that still wait for the others to be found.

Irish Independent

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