Northern Ireland

The Disappeared: 'More than one body' found during search for Joe Lynskey

Members of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains work at the scene Image copyright PA
Image caption The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains has been working at the site since March

More than one body has been discovered during a search for one of the Disappeared in the Republic of Ireland.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) had found remains it initially believed to be of Joe Lynskey.

He was abducted in west Belfast in 1972, and was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

But after Thursday's first find, the ICLVR said more remains had since been discovered at a bog in County Meath.

The term the Disappeared refers to victims who were murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

Image caption Senior investigator Jon Hill said there could be more than two bodies

Senior investigator Jon Hill said identification was at an early stage and it would be a difficult recovery process.

He said the bodies of two of the Disappeared, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, were "believed to be buried within a couple of hundred yards" of the area that was being searched.

Image copyright WAVE Trauma
Image caption Joe Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk from west Belfast

"There are most certainly two bodies - we're at quite an early stage but there may be more," he said.

"We were looking for Joe Lynskey, expecting it to be a single grave, and quite clearly that isn't the case."

Mr Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk from the Beechmount area of west Belfast, who later joined the IRA.

He was abducted close to his home in August 1972.

Mr Wright and Mr McKee were both IRA members who were abducted and murdered by the organisation in 1972.

Mr Hill said their families had been contacted.

The discoveries were made on Thursday by contractors under the supervision of a forensic archaeologist.

The recovery process will continue on Friday.

After that stage, the state pathologist will conduct a post-mortem examinations and begin the process of formal identification.

When excavations began at the Coghalstown bog in March, forensic investigators said they had narrowed the search to about 15 acres of bogland.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Lynskey's niece, Maria, visited the search site in Coghalstown, County Meath, last month

Last month, Maria Lynskey, Mr Lynskey's niece, visited the search site and made an appeal for help in finding his body.

She said her family had suffered "years of pain" after his abduction.

In a brief statement on Thursday, Ms Lynskey, thanked the ICLVR "and those who have engaged with the commission in the search for Joe".

Image caption Kevin McKee was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972

"Our thoughts are with the other families whose loved ones remain disappeared," she added.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the uncertainty over whose bodies had been recovered "must be hugely traumatic for the families involved".

"I thank everyone who has helped in the search of the remains of those who were killed and secretly buried by the IRA," he said.

"Republicans have co-operated fully with the commission and we now need to continue to do our utmost to bring closure for the remaining families."

The ICLVR was established in 1999 by treaty between the British and Irish governments.

Its role is to obtain confidential information that could help to locate the bodies of the missing victims, but such information cannot be used in criminal proceedings.

Over the past 16 years, the ICLVR has searched for 16 people who were officially listed as the Disappeared.

To date, the remains of 10 of the victims have been recovered and formally identified.

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