Two bodies recovered from a site in Co Meath last month were those of two of the Disappeared, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) has confirmed.
The commission said it has received DNA examination results which establish that the remains recovered from a field at Coghalstown in Co Meath were those of Mr Wright and Mr McKee. They were abducted, murdered and disappeared by the IRA in the 1970s.
"The results positively indicate that the remains are those of Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee," said Sir Ken Bloomfield and Frank Murray, the joint commissioners of the ICLVR. "Dr Brian Farrell, coroner for the city of Dublin has accepted this as evidence of identification and will shortly authorise the release of the remains to the families. The thoughts of everyone in the Commission are with the Wright and McKee families at this difficult time," they said.
Mr McKee (17) and Mr Wright (25), were both from Belfast and both members of the IRA. They were abducted and murdered by the IRA in October 1972 and buried together in a bog at Coghalstown, near Wilkinstown in Co Meath.
In all, there were 17 Disappeared, although the commission is officially involved in 16 cases of those who went missing between 1972 and 1985. The 17th of the Disappeared, who is not on the commission’s list, is Gareth O’Connor, who was murdered in 2003. His body was recovered in June 2005 at Victoria Quay, Newry Canal, Co Louth. His family blamed the Provisional IRA for his murder.
The confirmation means the remains of 13 of the 17 Disappeared have now been recovered.
The bodies yet to be located are those of Columba McVeigh from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone who went missing in 1975; Joe Lynskey who went missing from Belfast in 1972; British soldier Captain Robert Nairac, who is believed to have been shot dead close to the Border in the Louth/south Armagh area in 1977; and Seamus Ruddy who was killed in France by the INLA in 1985 during an internal feud and is believed to be buried in a forest near Rouen.
It is believed that the body of Mr Lynskey, a former Cistercian monk who became involved in the IRA, was also buried in the Coghalstown area.
It is believed the IRA was responsible for 16 of the 17 murders of the Disappeared.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams welcomed the commission’s confirmation of the identity of the bodies. “My thoughts are with the McKee and Wright families and those other families whose loved ones were killed and secretly buried during the conflict,” he said.
The news would “bring an end to the uncertainty” for the two families.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped in the search for the remains of those who were killed and secretly buried by the IRA. Republicans have cooperated fully with the commission and we now need to continue to do our utmost to bring closure for the remaining families,” he added.
“Today’s confirmation is an important step toward achieving this. I want to appeal again for anyone with any information on those remains still not found to bring that information forward to the families, to the commission or myself,” added Mr Adams.