Wednesday 25 April 2018

Remains found in hunt for 'disappeared man'

Human remains have been found by teams searching for a man who disappeared near the Irish border almost 30 years ago, it was revealed tonight.

Father-of-five Charles Armstrong, 57, from Crossmaglen, south Armagh, went missing on his way to Mass in 1981.

He is one of the so-called "Disappeared" - the 14 men and women abducted and killed by republican paramilitaries at the height of the violence in Northern Ireland. Five bodies have been recovered.

Tonight the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains said the remains were found in Co Monaghan. No further details were revealed.

Mr Armstrong's family have been informed, along with the Garda and the State Pathologist.

A statement said: "The recovery is ongoing and the formal identification process will take some time."

Last July, forensic experts searching for Mr Armstrong's remains were handed a map which was thought could provide vital clues.

The fresh information was sent anonymously and indicated a previously unsearched area in Co Monaghan.

At the time, several locations had already been searched near Carrickmacross, not far from the border.

The IRA admitted in 1999 that it murdered and buried nine of the Disappeared - Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Jean McConville, Columba McVeigh, Brendan Megraw, John McClory, Brian McKinney, Eamon Molloy and Danny McElhone - in secret locations.

The bodies of Mr Molloy, Mr McKinney, Mr McClory, Ms McConville and Mr McElhone have been found.

Others who vanished during the Troubles include Gerry Evans, Robert Nairac and Seamus Ruddy, who disappeared in France and whose murder was admitted by the INLA.

The ICLVR was set up by the British and Irish Governments in 1999 and reports to the Northern Ireland Office in Belfast and the Irish Justice Department in Dublin.

In 2007, it brought in Geoff Knupfer, the investigative scientist who helped find the bodies of the victims of Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, to spearhead a new scientific approach to the searches.

This included bringing in an archaeological "time-team", made up of geophysicists who used ground radar, scanners, probes and cadaver dogs which detect human remains.

The Republic's Justice Minister, Dermot Ahern, tonight thanked the commission for its work in the last number of years.

"Their work is very valuable in bringing closure for the families of the Disappeared," he said.

"It allows families the opportunity to say a final farewell by burying their loved ones with dignity and at family graveyards which they can visit and pay their respects.

"I can't comment in relation to the latest victim as gardai and the commission will have to formally identify the individual but our thoughts are with the family at this distressing time."

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said: "If this is true it will come as a huge relief to the family of Charlie Armstrong, who for almost three decades have never given up hope of finding him.

"I have met the family many times and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time and as they await confirmation.

"I would appeal for anyone with any information that might help other families locate remains and find closure to bring that information forward."

Press Association

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