The Disappeared: Columba McVeigh’s sister will ‘never give up hope’

Dympna Kerr visited the search site in Co Monaghan where her brother’s remains are thought to be 48 years after he was abducted

The sister of one of the last of the Disappeared to remain missing has said she will “never give up hope” that her brother’s body will be found.

Dympna Kerr said the family’s only wish was to have her brother, Columba McVeigh, returned and to be able to give him a Christian burial.

Ms Kerr visited the site of the search for Mr McVeigh’s remains, at Bragan Bog in Co Monaghan, ahead of the 48th anniversary of his abduction on Tuesday.

Mr McVeigh, from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, had been living in Dublin when he was abducted on October 31st, 1975.


The body of the 19 year old has never been found, despite successive searches carried out at the bog near Emyvale between 1999 and 2019.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) began a new search in the bog last year.

Mr McVeigh is one of 17 people known as the Disappeared who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA during the North’s Troubles. Four, including Mr McVeigh, are still missing.

Ahead of the anniversary of her brother’s abduction, Ms Kerr paid a private visit to the site of the search, where a special prayer for the Disappeared was read by Fr Joe Gormley.

“Every anniversary that comes and goes is harder than the last,” said Ms Kerr.

“I know people think that I must be angry after all these years of waiting and disappointment, but anger won’t keep you going during dark days and God knows there have been too many of those.

“I feel sad, I feel sick and sometimes on the edge of despair but I can’t give in to that.

“I can’t let go of the hope that one day we’ll get the call that says ‘We’ve found him’.

“That’s what I pray for every single day in life”.

Ms Kerr said that while it would “break my heart if Columba is not found”, nevertheless “I still won’t give up hoping and praying that someone somewhere who has that piece of information that will end this torture for us will get it to the ICLVR.”

Issuing a fresh appeal for information, she said “if Columba is where they have been told to search they will find him.

“If they don’t, it’s because he’s not there. We’ll need more accurate information if we leave Bragan again without Columba”.

All his family want, she said, “is to bring Columba home, to have the wake, to bring him to the cemetery in Donaghmore and lay him to a final rest beside our mum and dad”.

The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone on 00800-55585500 or +353 1 602 8655, via email to or by post to ICLVR PO Box 10827.

CrimeStoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 and the untraceable anonymous online form is at

A reward for information which leads to the discovery of those still missing – Mr McVeigh, Joe Lynskey, Robert Nairac and Seamus Maguire – remains in place.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times