Scientist leading search for IRA victim appeals for information

Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 01:00

THE FORENSIC scientist leading the search in Co Monaghan for the remains of one of the Disappeared, Columba McVeigh, has appealed for anyone with even the most “trivial” information to come forward.

Geoff Knupfer, who in the 1980s was involved in the search for two of the victims of Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, yesterday began overseeing “painstaking work” to find the remains of Mr McVeigh, who was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975.

Forestry workers last week cut down and cleared away trees at Bragan, Co Monaghan, where Mr McVeigh, who was 17 when he disappeared, may have been buried. Yesterday Mr Knupfer, chief investigator of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains, led specialist workers as they began clearing away the tree roots in their efforts to find the remains of Mr McVeigh.

He said up to a dozen members of the IRA may have been involved in the abduction, interrogation, murder and burial of Mr McVeigh, who was from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone. He urged anyone with information to bring it to the commission.

“I would appeal to anyone with information, however trivial they may think it is, to bring it forward. That information may mean nothing to them but it might be the piece of information we are looking for,” he said.

The commission has searched the general Bragan bog site three times already, but now the trees have been cut down in a 100m by 100m area, this is the first time it has been able to search this specific location. When Mr McVeigh was murdered the area would have been covered in saplings.

Mr Knupfer said the work would take a number of weeks. “This is a complex process. We have to be very careful in digging the ground and clearing away all the tree roots. It’s a case of fingers crossed that we will be successful this time,” he said.

In the mid-1980s, Mr Knupfer carried out searches for two of the victims of Brady and Hindley, who in the early 1960s killed five children aged between 10 and 17 in the so-called Moors murders.

He was successful in recovering the remains of victim Pauline Reade. The remains of Keith Bennett were not found.

So far the remains of 10 of the 17 Disappeared victims of the Troubles, most of whom were murdered by the IRA, have been recovered. The confidential telephone for anyone with information is 00800-555 8550.