A Catholic bishop has called on republicans to help recover the Disappeared from the Troubles whose bodies are still missing.
The Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan said it is “cruel” that the bodies of three of the nine people who were “disappeared” have never been located.
The longest wait has been for the family of Joe Lynskey (40) who disappeared from Belfast in August 1972. He was a member of the Provisional IRA but they did not admit they killed him until 2010.
Seamus Maguire disappeared after leaving his home at Aghagallon near Lurgan in March 1973. He was only added to the list of Disappeared earlier this year. It is thought that either the Official or Provisional IRA were responsible for his death.
Columba McVeigh was just 19 when he was abducted in November 1975. The Provisional IRA claimed he had been a British army intelligence agent, a claim denied by his family. An unsuccessful search for him was conducted in Bragan Bog near the Monaghan/Tyrone border earlier this month.
Speaking at mass for the First Sunday of Advent at St Catherine’s Church in Oristown, Co Meath, Bishop Deenihan said previous appeals had helped contribute to finding six of the nine who are regarded as Disappeared.
The mass is also one for the families of the Disappeared.
Bishop Deenihan said the three remaining families are “not only grieving their lost families, but are suffering the added pain of not having a grave to pray at. That is cruel.
“Indeed, when we read of accidents at sea, we always say a prayer that the body will be found. It allows a family the consolation of having a grave to visit and affords the deceased the dignity of a Christian burial.”
It was a “matter of fact” that many of the Disappeared were buried in the Republic and people have information about it, he added.
“Time is passing. Some of those who may have some shred of information may also be getting old. Indeed, some of those who may have information or may have been involved may have died,” the bishop said.
His predecessor, Bishop Michael Smith, had successfully asked for information. Bishop Deenihan hoped for the same result.
“Can I appeal to you again tonight? No family deserves not to have the consolation of a grave,” he said.
“No Christian, no child of God, no one made in the likeness of God, deserves to be abandoned in a field or bog. As people grow older and as some die, it may be easier for those who feel that they may have some scrap of information to come forward. That is our hope this evening.”