The family of a “Disappeared” victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles has said it is delighted human remains have been found in the French forest where it is believed he was secretly buried more than 30 years ago.
Seamus Ruddy, a 32-year-old teacher from Co Down, was abducted from Paris then murdered and buried by republican paramilitary group the INLA in 1985.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) announced on Saturday that it had made the discovery at Pont-de-l’Arche near Rouen in northern France.
Experts began a fresh search of the wooded area on Tuesday.
Mr Ruddy’s sister Anne Morgan said: “We just want to take Seamus home and give him a Christian burial with his parents Molly and John.
“We would like to thank the ICLVR and the forensic team.
“And we are very grateful to the French authorities for their role in facilitating the search.
“We would especially like to thank those who gave the vital information which has helped to find him.
“We have waited a long time and prayed for the day that he could be given a Christian burial in Newry.”
The commission said the process of recovering the remains would take some time.
A post-mortem examination and formal identification will then be carried in conjunction with the French authorities.
The ICLVR was set up during the peace process by the UK and Irish governments to recover the bodies of those murdered and secretly buried, mainly by the IRA, in the 1970s and 1980s.
There had been a number of previous searches in same forest area for Mr Ruddy, the most recent by the ICLVR in 2008.
The commission’s experts, who require those with knowledge of the crimes to come forward and provide information without fear of prosecution, were confident the guidance they were acting on this time was accurate.
If the remains are those of Mr Ruddy, that will leave three of the 16 Disappeared victims still to be recovered.
The remains of Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac have yet to be found.
Mrs Morgan added: “But while we have received the news that we have longed for for so many years we are conscious that there are others still waiting and our thoughts are also with the families of Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac.
“We urge anyone who can provide information on these cases to please come forward to ICLVR”.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said: “I want to welcome the recovery by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains of what appears to be the remains of Seamus Ruddy in northern France.
“I want to commend the commission and all of those involved in today’s discovery.
“Efforts must continue to recover the three remaining bodies.
“I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward.”