The family of murdered undercover soldier Robert Nairic has waited long enough to have his body returned for burial, former Army officer Doug Beattie has said.
Captain Nairic was abducted from a bar in south Armagh and murdered 40 years ago, and remains one of three Troubles victims whose bodies have not yet been recovered.
The other two missing men are Columba McVeigh and Joe Lynskey.
Mr Beattie, who served as a captain in the Royal Irish Regiment before becoming an Ulster Unionist MLA, said anyone with information on any of the so-called Disappeared should come forward.
“Everybody deserves to have a Christian burial,” he said.
Mr Beattie was commenting after the sister of a recently found Disappeared victim made a heartfelt appeal for help locating the remaining three bodies.
Anne Morgan, whose brother Seamus Ruddy was found buried in woodland in northern France earlier this year, said the relatives of the Disappeared would stand together until they were all brought home.
Mr Beattie said: “Everybody deserves to have a place where the family can go to mourn, regardless of which side of the conflict you were on, and I would plead, and I use that word deliberately, I would plead with republicans to help in the recovery of Robert Nairic’s body – to give the family the ability to go to a place to mourn a very brave man.
“He was a brave man who deserves a Christian burial.”
A total of 16 people were murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.
The families of the Disappeared held their annual silent walk in the grounds of the Stormont parliament in Belfast yesterday to highlight the need for those involved in the killings to pass on information.
They carry a wreath every year with white lilies attached, signifying those still missing.
In a poignant moment at this year’s event, Ms Morgan removed her brother’s lily.
“When we started the wreath was full of white lilies, there are now three lilies left and we want to ensure that these are removed when those still Disappeared are found,” she said.
“We will continue to walk here on this day until all of the Disappeared are brought home.”
We urge those who can help find them – Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac – to come forward and give proper information.”
In February 1979, Grenadier Guards captain Nairic was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his service.