Specialist team rejects claims of breakthrough in Nairac search

Captain Robert Nairac was abducted by the IRA in south Armagh. His remains have never been found.
Captain Robert Nairac was abducted by the IRA in south Armagh. His remains have never been found.
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A specialist team searching for disappeared Troubles victims has emphatically dismissed claims that the remains of Captain Robert Nairac are in a suggested burial site in Co Louth.

Geoff Knupfer of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) has said that a specific location in Ravensdale Forest, close to the border with Northern Ireland, is “not and never has been a gravesite”. In recent days, former Grenadier Guardsman and veterans’ campaigner Alan Barry said two cadaver dogs had given positive indications at the spot which was pointed out by a psychic.

On Wednesday, Mr Knupfer said: ”We were looking at quite a defined area at which the cadaver dogs had apparently given strong indications. We carried out a careful and painstaking archaeological examination.

“If the subsurface had been disturbed by a spade or any other device or implement cutting into it to bury remains we would have seen clear evidence of that.

“There was none. The subsurface was pristine. It was never a gravesite.”

The English Army officer was abducted by the IRA during an undercover operation in a south Armagh pub in 1977.

Mr Knupfer added: “One of the most important aspects of the Commission’s work is in relation to communicating sensitively with the families of those who are still waiting for the remains of their loved ones to be returned for Christian burial. We have to make careful judgments not least in terms of managing expectations.

“Over the nearly 15 years that I have been leading the ICLVR’s investigations we have never told families that we know exactly the spot where their loved one is buried for the very good reason that we don’t.

“We work from credible information and draw on years of experience with some of the best forensic archaeologists in Ireland and the UK to narrow down a site and all we can ever say with confidence is that if the remains are there we will find them.”

Mr Knupfer went on to say: “In the last five years we have conducted four substantive searches and recovered the remains of four of the Disappeared.

“We are currently searching for Columba McVeigh in Bragan Bog Co Monaghan and we hope and pray that that search will also be successful.

“But there are no guarantees where bodies have been secretly buried over 40 years ago.

“To suggest otherwise would be grossly irresponsible.”

Anyone with information relating to the whereabouts of the remains of Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh or Robert Nairac can contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 and the untraceable anonymous online form is at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone: 00800-55585500. International: +353 1 602 8655.