Northern Ireland

Man's remains were '40 yards from previous search site'

Willie Gallagher
Image caption Willie Gallagher passed on the new information which led to the discovery near Rouen

A former INLA prisoner who was involved in the search for Seamus Ruddy has said the remains found at the weekend were less than 40 yards from a previous search site.

Mr Ruddy, 32, was murdered and secretly buried in 1985 by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Willie Gallagher has been liaising with the commission set up to find the bodies of the Disappeared.

He passed on the new information which led to the discovery near Rouen.

Formal identification has yet to take place.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSeamus Ruddy's sister recalls remains find

Mr Gallagher, of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), said a decision to follow up on a rumour about an INLA arms dump in a forest provided the breakthrough at the weekend.

The former INLA man, who was jailed for a bomb attack on a bar in Strabane, said he is relieved the search is now over.

"Three years ago we had extra members on our team to re-examine and re-evaluate all the information we did have and during the course of that we came across what seemed an insignificant rumour which we pursued," he said.

"That insignificant piece of information provided the key to lock the door with regard to more precision as to where the body was and we were successful in the recovery.

"We chased down every lead possible, and some of those leads came to dead ends and actually involved a number of us travelling over to France, Belgium and Spain."

Image caption Anne Morgan and her husband visited the search site on Friday

Mr Ruddy's sister, Anne Morgan, said her life has "completely changed" since investigators discovered human remains near Rouen on Saturday.

Anne Morgan was the only member of her family to travel to the search site in France.

Before attending Mass at the Church of Joan of Arc in Rouen on Sunday morning, she said she would "be thinking of family" who were at home.

Image caption A forensic tent has been placed at the site where human remains were found in Foret Domaniale

"I'll also be thinking of those who have been here looking after this site at Pont-de-l'Arche, and all of the people who have spent a lot of time helping us to find Seamus."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Seamus Ruddy has been missing for 32 years

Mr Ruddy was working as an English teacher in Paris when he went missing.

He was one of 16 people known as the Disappeared who were murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland's Troubles.

The INLA admitted responsibility for the killing 10 years after Mr Ruddy's death.

This latest search began in France on Tuesday after new information was passed to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR).

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Seamus Ruddy's siblings - Terry, Gertie and Kieran - gathered around their parents's grave on Saturday

Other members of the Ruddy family were at home in Newry, County Down, when the discovery was confirmed.

The remains of three people out of 16 Disappeared have not yet been found.

The others are Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Army Capt Robert Nairac.

More on this story