Remains found near Border thought to be those of Troubles victim

Fri, Jul 30, 2010, 01:00

HUMAN REMAINS, believed to be that of Armagh man Charlie Armstrong, who went missing at the height of the Troubles almost 30 years ago, have been found.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains said it made the discovery early yesterday afternoon in the townland of Aughrim More, on the Co Monaghan side of Cullaville, straddling the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Spokesman for the commission Ken Mack confirmed a body had been found but stressed that it was too early to confirm its identity.

“The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, in its search for the body of Charlie Armstrong, has found human remains in Monaghan.

“The recovery is ongoing and the formal identification process will take some time. The family of Mr Armstrong, An Garda Síochána and the State Pathologist’s office have been informed.”

The Garda press office confirmed last night that the scene had been sealed off and was being preserved for further inspection.

In a statement, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said if it was true that the remains were Mr Armstrong’s “it will come as a huge relief” to his family.

The discovery came after the commission received an anonymous map which indicated a previously unsearched area where it was claimed Mr Armstrong, a father of five, had been buried. After consulting with his family, the commission appealed to the person who sent the map to contact them in confidence.

The map was the third one the commission had received in the case and reaffirmed its views on the general area in which the 55-year-old Crossmaglen man, who disappeared 29 years ago, was believed to be buried. Mr Armstrong, a labourer, went missing prior to setting off in his car to collect a friend for 10am Mass on Sunday, August 16th, 1981.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper in 2001, his widow Kathleen Armstrong said that on the day after his disappearance, a young man from Crossmaglen phoned her home to say he’d spotted the family Datsun car parked outside the Adelphi cinema in Dundalk. By the time the Armstrong family got there to inspect, two gardaí were standing at the car. There was nothing to suggest a struggle.

Regarded as a gentle man, he was not known to have any political enemies in republican south Armagh. Numerous theories have surrounded his disappearance, with most believing the IRA tried to hijack his car, forcing him to put up strong resistance which resulted in his execution, while others in the Crossmaglen area are of the opinion that he saw or discovered something which may have left him compromised.