Northern Ireland

Columba McVeigh: Bishop of Clogher makes appeal for information

Columba McVeigh Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Columba McVeigh was murdered by the IRA in 1975

The Bishop of Clogher has made a special appeal for information about one of the so-called Disappeared.

Dr Liam MacDaid visited Monaghan on Wednesday night to ask anyone who knows where Columba McVeigh is buried to contact the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.

The 19-year-old man, from Donaghmore in County Tyrone, was kidnapped in 1975.

The most recent search for his body at Bragan Bog, Emyvale, County Monaghan ended in failure in September 2013.

It was the sixth such search.

At a Mass in Carrickroe, near Emyvale, Dr MacDaid urged anyone who might have even a "small shred" of evidence about where Mr McVeigh was secretly buried to come forward to the commission and help end the burden the McVeigh family.

The Sacred Heart church is a few miles from Bragan mountain, where Mr McVeigh is believed to have been buried after being abducted and murdered by the IRA in November 1975.

Dr MacDaid told the congregation: "Columba's mother and father had to go to their grave not knowing where their son was buried.

Image copyright Michael Fisher
Image caption Dympna Kerr and her brother, Oliver McVeigh, at the Mass in Carrickroe

"That is not an experience we want to inflict on any family."

The congregation included Columba's brother Oliver and sister Dympna Kerr, as well as other families of the disappeared.

"The ICLVR needs more information to narrow down the search area to find Columba, just as they were able to do at Oristown and find Brendan Megraw," said Oliver McVeigh.

"How can anyone with a shred of humanity about them leave us like this after 40 years knowing that they could end our suffering?"


One of the two commissioners, Frank Murray, a former secretary to the Irish government, attended the Mass along with forensic expert Geoff Knupfer, who has led some of the searches carried out by the commission.

Before the service, Mr Murray addressed the congregation. He stressed the independence and confidentiality offered by his office and said anyone who gave information to him was immune from prosecution.

The first search for Columba McVeigh began 14 years ago. There have been a number of searches at Bragan Bog.

Columba's mother, Vera McVeigh, campaigned tirelessly for the return of his body. She died in 2007, aged 82.

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

In 1999, the British and Irish governments established the commission in an effort to gain confidential information about the location of their bodies.

There are 16 people on the ICLVR list of the Disappeared. So far, nine bodies have been recovered. The remaining seven are Joe Lynskey; Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Capt. Robert Nairac, Brendan Megraw, Seamus Ruddy and Columba McVeigh.

The Provisional IRA admitted responsibility for 13 of the 16, while one was admitted by the INLA. No attribution has been given for the remaining two.

Prayers were also said and a candle was lit for Kieran McAree, the Emyvale man who is believed to have gone into the water in Lough Erne in Enniskillen and for whom the search has continued for five weeks.

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