Brother of Disappeared Columba McVeigh: It’s just one disappointment after another

The brother of one of the last of those killed and secretly buried by republicans to remain missing has made a plea for information to find him.

Sunday, 3rd November 2019, 5:28 pm
Families of 16 people killed and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles take part in the 13th annual All Souls Silent Walk at Stormont

Oliver McVeigh made the call as families of the 16 people disappeared during Northern Ireland’s troubled past gathered at Stormont for their annual silent walk.

Of the 16 Disappeared, the remains of 13 have been found while three remain missing.

The families of Co Tyrone teenager Columba McVeigh, former monk Joe Lynskey and Captain Robert Nairac are hopeful their bodies can be found.

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Geoff Knupfer, who leads the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), walked with the families during the 13th All Souls Day Silent Walk.

Families laid a black wreath with three white lilies representing those who have yet to be found on the steps.

Mr McVeigh, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, was one of the first to be killed and secretly buried in 1975.

The latest search for his remains at Bragan Bog, Co Monaghan by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) ended earlier this year without success.

His brother Oliver told the PA news agency that his family are back to the drawing board and urged anyone with information to come forward.

“This is also the anniversary of my brother’s disappearance and death,” he said.

“We are one family, the Disappeared now, we have all toiled to find these other bodies and it’s nice to see people weighing in behind our family and the other two that are still missing, to say we are still behind you.

“The end of the search is heartbreaking, it’s one disappointment after another. At this stage it is back to the drawing board, going back to the republican movement and seeing.

“We can’t leave it at that, we have to keep going and they are going to have to come up with something new because he’s not where they said he was.”

The IRA is deemed responsible for most of the 16 murders and secret burials while the INLA was behind one of the disappearances.

Mr Lynskey went missing from his west Belfast home in May 1972.

Searches have taken place for his remains in Co Meath, but ended without success.

Captain Nairac is believed to have been abducted from a bar in south Armagh in May 1977.

Unsuccessful searches have taken place for his remains at Ravensdale Forest, Co Louth.

Father Joe Gormley from Creggan said Captain Nairac’s sister, who is based in London, is touched that her brother is remembered.

“I was in contact with Rosamund this morning, she is so touched and so thankful that people gather to remember Robert here on All Souls Day and also at the mass for the disappeared which we have in Armagh,” he said.

“There’s always hope that remains can be recovered, that’s why we gather here, there are only three left and in time we hope the number will be zero.”