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Grave being excavated in search for 'Disappeared' teen

Investigators working on theory that remains of IRA victim were secreted in plot.

The excavation for suspected remains of one of the 'Disappeared' at Urbleshanny graveyard, Co Monaghan
The excavation for suspected remains of one of the 'Disappeared' at Urbleshanny graveyard, Co Monaghan
Image: Darren McCarra via http://sociable.co/

A GRAVE IN a Co Monaghan cemetery is still being excavated this evening in the search for remains of an IRA murder victim.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains is involved in an exhumation at a plot at Urbleshanny graveyard in Scotstown, Co Monaghan. A Garda spokesperson has confirmed that gardai and the Commission were given a tip that a second body was unofficially interred in the grave.

The investigation may be linked to the ongoing search for the remains of one of the so-called ‘Disappeared’, victims of the IRA or INLA who were abducted and murdered in the 1970s and 1980s. One of these ‘Disappeared’, 17-year-old Tyrone teenager Columba McVeigh, has previously been the focus of digs in this area of Monaghan, including one in a nearby bog in 2003.

North Monaghan coroner Dr Martin Watters told the BBC that he had authorised today’s exhumation and that the purpose is “to identify the remains within that grave”. Any remains will then be subject to forensic examination and if suspected to be one of the Disappeared, will be removed from the scene for further tests.

According to the Commission for the Location of Victims Remains, nine bodies have been recovered. These include those of Peter Wilson, Gerard Evans, Danny McIlhone, Charlie Armstrong, Jean McConville, Eamon Molloy, John McClory, Brian McKinney and Eugene Simmons.

Columba McVeigh, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, is believed to have been shot dead by the Provisional IRA in 1975. Although the group has admitted responsibility for his killing, it has never specified the nature of his perceived ‘betrayal’ of the republican movement. This 2003 article from The Guardian, written at the time of a fruitless dig for McVeigh in Bragan bog, Co Monaghan, gives a powerful sense of the continuing heartache of families of the ‘Disappeared’ whose remains have not been found.

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Pictures from the scene of today’s exhumation are courtesy of Darren McCarra at The Sociable.

Grave being excavated in search for 'Disappeared' teen
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  • Columba McVeigh

    Oliver McVeigh, brother of Columba McVeigh (picture in background), sits with actor James Nesbitt at a 2007 appeal for information on the location of Columba's body. (Paul Faith/PA Wire)
  • Exhumation, Urbleshanny, Co Monaghan

    Gardai prepare to exhume remains at a plot at Urbleshanny, Co Monaghan today. (Darren McCarra/TheSociable)
  • Exhumation, Urbleshanny, Co Monaghan

    The exhumation of remains at a plot at Urbleshanny, Co Monaghan today. (Darren McCarra/TheSociable)

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