The brother of a newlywed murdered and secretly buried by the IRA has expressed hope of finally finding his body ahead of fresh searches commencing in remote bogland in the Republic today.
Brendan Megraw vanished in April 1978 and so became one of the so-called Disappeared victims of the Troubles.
The 23-year-old from west Belfast and 16 other people were abducted, killed and clandestinely buried by republicans during the conflict.
It is believed Mr Megraw’s remains lie in a bog in Oristown, Co Meath.
His brother Kieran acknowledged it would be a “difficult day” for the family.
“There is hope but the other side of the coin is you have to hold back your emotions as well,” he said.
Three unsuccessful searches covering 10 acres of the bogland have already been carried out, the most recent of which was in 2010.
It is understood the latest bid to find the body comes after new information was received by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) - the body set up jointly by the British and Irish Governments to liaise with former paramilitaries to find the Disappeared.
It will focus on five acres of bogland that have not been examined previously.
No shovels will break the ground today, as the first week of the operation will involve a survey of the site by forensic archaeologists using radar to try to identify anomalies beneath the surface.
When the results of those examinations are assessed a decision on whether to commence fresh excavations will be made.
Mr Megraw stressed the importance of those with information giving it to the commission.
“It will be a difficult day,” he said.
“The previous searches were three or four years ago and at that stage you wondered what the next step would be, but thankfully something has come in to the commission that they feel warrants some actions, which is good to hear.”
He added: “We are obviously grateful for whoever has put forward the information.
“We have been making appeals, like the other families (of the Disappeared) have been making appeals, so it is good to know that some information is coming in.”
Geoff Knupfer from the ICLVR said: “No one, least of all Brendan’s family, is under any illusion that this is anything other than a huge task.
“But, with the right information, we are confident that we can find Brendan.”
Mr Megraw, from Twinbrook, was looking forward to the birth of his first child and was due to start a new job on a ship when he went missing.
The IRA claimed he had confessed to being a British provocateur and Military Reaction Force undercover agent in 1978.
The ICVLR was established in 1999 after the Good Friday peace agreement and is acknowledged as a world leader in the search and recovery of human remains from bogland.
The remains of 10 of the Disappeared have been recovered but the bodies of seven others have yet to be found.
Others missing include Joe Lynskey, a former Cistercian monk from West Belfast, Captain Robert Nairac of the SAS, and 19-year-old Columba McVeigh from Dungannon, Co Tyrone.
As well as Mr Megraw, at least two other bodies are thought to be buried in Co Meath. Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright were taken from west Belfast in 1972 and searches have been carried out at Wilkinstown, a short distance from Oristown.