The first Disappeared victim whose body was found 24 years after his murder prayed with a pair of rosary beads given to him by the man in charge of those who would soon execute him, it has been revealed.
Martin Molloy, the brother of north Belfast man Eamon, who was killed in Co Louth in 1975 by the IRA who claimed he was an informer, has spoken of his meeting with priest Fr Eugene McCoy who was called to hear Eamon’s confession before he was murdered.
In a moving recollection Martin, speaking to the BBC, said Fr McCoy, who met the family when Eamon’s body was discovered in 1999, told them of the 21-year-old’s final distressing hours in a mobile home in a field in Louth.
He had asked to see a priest and have his last confession heard, and Fr McCoy had been invited to the scene under the auspices that there had been an accident.
When he got there Fr McCoy saw some men in the group outside playing football, and found Eamon in the caravan lying with his hands and feet bound.
Martin said Fr McCoy had argued with the IRA to let Eamon go, saying he was innocent but that “fell on deaf ears”.
The priest recalled how one of the men, who seemed to be the commander of group of 12-13 people present, had taken a pair of rosary beads from his pocket and given them to the priest so they could say the rosary.
When Eamon’s body was found he was clutching a cross in his right hand, Martin said, adding that the knowledge a priest had been with him near the end had given the family some consolation.
Eamon had written two letters, one for his mother and one for his wife, and asked that the family were assured he was innocent of the IRA accusation.
Martin said the thought of why the Fr McCoy had not gone to police at the time had “crossed my mind” but he realised it “wasn’t easy for the priest”.
“I’m sure he (Fr McCoy) went through his own turmoil and struggle of being in a situation not of his making. I think it had an impact on him,” he added.
Fr McCoy died 10 years ago.
A major new documentary on The Disappeared will be broadcast on BBC One at 10.35pm on Monday night.