New appeal over Columba McVeigh, killed by IRA 40 years ago
Body of teenager from Dungannon kidnapped and killed by IRA has not been found
Four searches, the most recent in September 2013, have been carried out in Bragan Bog, Co Monaghan, since 1999, but Columba McVeigh’s remains have yet to be found.
A file image showing an earlier Garda excavation at a site on Bragan Bog in Co Monaghan in a bid to recover the remains of Columba McVeigh. Photograph: The Irish Times
The family of a teenager kidnapped and killed by the IRA has made a fresh appeal for information, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his disappearance.
Columba McVeigh from Dungannon, Co Tyrone was among 16 murder victims who became known as the ‘Disappeared’.
Despite extensive searches, the 19-year-old’s body has not been found.
His brother Oliver McVeigh said: “Is 40 years not long enough to punish a family?
“Someone has the information that can end this inhumanity at absolutely no risk to themselves. It is all about the information - we just need a little bit more.”
Mr McVeigh vanished on November 1st, 1975.
It is believed he was secretly buried at Bragan bog near Emyvale in Co Monaghan.
Digs by gardaí and the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICVLR) - which was set up by the British and Irish governments in 1999 - have so far proved unsuccessful.
The latest search for McVeigh was in September 2013.
Oliver McVeigh added: “We just want the result. We just want his body; to give him a Christian burial and lay him to rest beside his mother and father.”
Speaking from her home in Liverpool, his sister Dympna Kerr said the pain of his disappearance was still raw.
She said: “Every year that passes is harder than the last and this anniversary is particularly painful.
“If Columba had lived we would have celebrated his 60th birthday last September. Not only was that denied us, but we have nowhere to gather to mourn him.
“All we can do is to pray and plead - pray that someday we’ll get him back and plead with anyone who has information to help bring an end to this nightmare. It’s terrible.”
To date, the ICVLR has recovered the remains of 12 people.
Last month, Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright were buried after more than 43 years. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave near Coghalstown in Co Meath.
Mother of 10 Jean McConville, from West Belfast, and Crossmaglen pensioner Charles Armstrong have also been found.
Frank Murray, one of the two commissioners with the ICLVR said they would not give up.
He said: “The fact that we have yet to find Columba does not mean that this is a lost cause. Far from it.
“We are convinced that the information we have received to date has us in the right place. A huge expanse of Bragan bog has been searched. What we need now is more information to be able to refine the search area.
“That’s what happened in the search for Brendan Megraw, whose remains we found last October some 15 years after searching commenced.
“I can give an absolute guarantee to anyone who has information and brings it to the commission that it will be treated in complete confidence.”
Sandra Peake, from the Wave Trauma Centre - which has supported the families of the ‘Disappeared’ since 1995, said someone could end their heartache.
She added: “Since this time last year, the ICLVR has restored the remains of three of the Disappeared to their families.
“All of the families, including the McVeighs, rejoice at the news that loved ones have been returned to their families for a Christian burial. At the same time, it makes their continuing plight all the more stark.
“Someone who can help bring an end to their intolerable suffering should search their conscience to do what is right.”