Northern Ireland

'Disappeared' man Gerry Evans funeral takes place

Gerry Evans Image copyright bbc
Image caption Gerry Evans went missing aged 24 in County Monaghan in 1979

Hundreds of people have attended the funeral in Crossmaglen of Gerry Evans, one of the "Disappeared".

Mr Evans' remains were found seven weeks ago in County Louth, 31 years after he went missing.

He was 24 years old when he was last seen, hitch-hiking in Castleblayney, County Monaghan. It is thought he was kidnapped and murdered by the IRA.

Cardinal Sean Brady told the requiem mass that Mr Evans had been "brutally taken away".

He said there was great anger that people had taken it upon themselves "to play God" - acting as Mr Evans' "judge, jury, executioner and undertaker".

Members of Mr Evans' family carried his coffin to St Patrick's Church on Saturday as his mother walked behind.

The family described finally being able to bury their loved one as "bittersweet".

During the service, Mr Evans' brother Noel appealed to those who know where other victims were buried to help their families find them.

"You've helped us," he said. "Now help the other families of the Disappeared who are in a living nightmare."

Mr Evans was buried in the grounds of the church, close to the grave of Charlie Armstrong, another of the Disappeared whose body was found earlier this year.

On Friday, Noel Evans paid tribute to his mother for her strength over her 31-year wait.

"My mother has finally got her son back. Saturday will be a bitter-sweet day but it is great to have him home," he said.

Mr Evans remains were discovered shortly after the Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains announced they were winding down the search at Carrickrobin after 16 months of painstaking excavation.

They had unearthed an area the size of four football fields but had found nothing.

At that stage, Noel Evans said they were losing hope that he would ever be found.

Mr Evans said the support from the local community had been "unbelievable".

"Years ago, people were afraid. People, in their hearts, were aggrieved but they probably wanted to say it, but couldn't.

"We went to thank people for finally coming forward and giving us the information. After 31 years, the information came through. The pain is still the same whether it happened 31 years ago or seven weeks ago."

Sixteen people were murdered by republican paramilitaries and secretly buried in isolated areas of Ireland during the Troubles.

Nine bodies have yet to be found.

In 1999, the IRA admitted responsibility for killing and secretly burying nine of the 16, while one was admitted by the INLA.

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