'Sadness and elation' as Disappeared bodies removed
The families of two of men who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA believe their 43-year torment could be at an end.
The bodies of the IRA 'Disappeared' are thought to be that of Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, both abducted and murdered by the terror group in Belfast in October 1972. It will be weeks before the result of DNA tests are known.
The double grave was found during the search on a farm near Coghalstown in Co Meath for Joe Lynskey, a former monk who also went missing from Belfast in the same year.
Geoff Knupfer, lead forensic investigator with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), said work to find Mr Lynskey would not end.
"Speculation at this stage is that these could be those two boys. We don't know and obviously it's too early to start jumping to conclusions," he said.
"But if it turns out that it is Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, we will continue to search this site for Joe Lynskey."
Members of the Wright family spent several hours talking to ICLVR investigators and overlooking the grave area, before they were joined by some of the McKee family. "It's a mixture of sadness and elation," said Mr Knupfer.
The families of both men said the find has given them hope.
"We hope that we can at last see an end to the torment that has lasted over 40 years and bring Seamus and Kevin home," they said in a joint statement.
"While this will change the lives of our families, our thoughts are with the Lynskey family and all those who still wait for the news that their loved ones have been found. We pray for them."
Mr Lynskey's niece Maria also visited the site last night.
The grave is believed to have been about one metre deep when it was dug in the 1970s and has remained untouched since.
Mr Lynskey, a former Cistercian monk from Beechmount in west Belfast, was abducted and murdered by the IRA in August 1972. The terror group only admitted to being behind his disappearance in 2010.
Mr Wright was in the IRA and murdered by his former colleagues, who accused him of being a British Army agent and a member of an undercover unit. He was married and 25 years old when he went missing in October 1972. He worked as an asphalt layer.
Mr McKee, again from Belfast and in the IRA, was also murdered in the same year. He too was alleged to have been a British Army agent and member of its Military Reaction Force. He was interrogated and murdered by the terror group.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she hoped the suffering of families of some of those who were disappeared would be eased with the latest discoveries.
"Our thoughts are with the families of the Disappeared at this emotional time, awaiting final confirmation of the identities of the remains which have been located and hoping that all the remains believed to be at the location will be found," Ms Fitzgerald said.