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Joint Statement by the British and Irish governments announcing the next steps on location of 'The Disappeared', (3 August 2006)

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Text: British and Irish Governments ... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Joint Statement by the British and Irish governments announcing the next steps on location of 'The Disappeared', (3 August 2006)


The British and Irish Governments have today set out a series of measures which have been agreed with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR).

The Commission has briefed families of the Disappeared on the measures which flow from a review conducted by a forensic science investigative consultant of the work carried out to date and an assessment of what further steps could be taken to recover the bodies.

The Secretary of State Peter Hain MP said: "Both the British and Irish Governments are committed to doing what they can to find the bodies of the Disappeared and bring some closure to the families.

At the core of this tragedy we have a number of families grieving for the return of the remains of their loved ones and it is important that they are kept fully informed of the work of the Commission."

The Secretary of State stressed that it is important not to raise unrealistic expectations, particularly in the light of a number of unsuccessful excavations in previous years.

The Commission delivered a report, based on the expert's review, to the two Governments earlier this year. The Governments, following consideration of the report, have accepted its recommendations and have agreed to a series of key measures that will now be taken. These are:

  • The retention of the forensic expert and the establishment of a project team to work as part of the Commission to take forward the report's recommendations.
  • The setting up of a PO Box and confidential telephone line which will allow people with information on the whereabouts of victims to share it with the ICLVR. These will be publicised through an advertising campaign.
  • The carrying out of non-invasive surveys on all suspected gravesites, including examinations of all relevant contemporary mapping, forestry records and aerial photography of sites for comparison with current imagery and mapping by imagery analysts.
  • The use of other experts/resources where beneficial, including existing 'body disposal' databases.
  • The collection of DNA samples from the closest biological relatives of all those victims whose bodies are yet to be recovered. Any surviving medical and dental records will also be secured.
  • The establishment of a family liaison officer and media contact point within the Commission.

In line with the report's recommendations, physical excavation of gravesites will now only be undertaken if and where the Commission assesses there to be a good prospect of successful recovery of remains.


Notes to Editors:

A forensic sciences investigative consultant was engaged by the ICLVR in 2005 to conduct a review of work carried out to date, and assess what further steps could be taken to recover the bodies of 'the Disappeared', a number of people whom the IRA admitted in 1999 to having secretly killed and buried during 'the Troubles'. The review also examined the cases of other disappeared.

In the course of this work the forensic expert met with IRA interlocutors in the hope of pinpointing the resting places of those victims who were not found when the Commission carried out its original excavations in 1999-2003.

The full list of victims whom the IRA admitted to having killed and buried in unknown locations comprises:

  • Seamus Wright
  • Kevin McKee
  • Jean McConville
  • Columba McVeigh
  • Brendan Megraw
  • John McClory
  • Brian McKinney
  • Danny McIlhone
  • Eamon Molloy

On the morning that the ICLVR was set up, in May 1999, the remains of Eamon Molloy were left in a coffin in a graveyard in Faughart, County Louth.

The remains of Brian McKinney and John McClory were recovered in a site in Co. Monaghan. These were the only remains to be found directly as a result of excavations undertaken on the foot of information provided by IRA.

The remains of Jean McConville were discovered by members of the public on Shelling Hill beach in Co. Louth in 2003. IRA information had on a number of occasions previously indicated nearby Templeton beach as their location.

Over 85,000 square metres of land was excavated by An Garda Síochána in the course of this process.

Other cases examined by the expert include those of Charles Armstrong and Gerard Evans, who disappeared from Co. Armagh but for whom no-one has claimed responsibility; Robert Nairac who also disappeared from Co. Armagh, and Seamus Ruddy, who disappeared in France. Responsibility for Seamus Ruddy's disappearance has been attributed to the INLA.


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