Sixth search for body of IRA victim Columba McVeigh ends

Appeal for information after failure to find teenager’s remains in Bragan bog, Co Monaghan

A search for the body of Columba McVeigh, who was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in November 1975, has been called off for the sixth time.

The McVeigh family has again called for fresh information from Columba's killers after a search at Bragan bog, Co Monaghan, near the Tyrone border, was suspended.

His brother and sister have spoken of the family’s “torture” and “torment” at the failure to recover Columba’s body, 38 years after he was abducted while working in Dublin. He was 19.

Oliver McVeigh, his brother, said: "The news that the sixth search of Bragan has not found Columba is devastating for the family. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains [ICLVR] is doing everything it can to find Columba but it's not going to happen unless they get accurate information."

Confidential information


Appealing for fresh details from the killers, he said: “There are people out there who have the information and they haven’t come forward and I can’t understand why. They have nothing to gain by keeping their secret and nothing to lose by telling the commission what they know. They know that the information is confidential. Why do they continue to torture a family like this?”

“Let us bring Columba home and end this torment.”

Columba’s sister Dympna said: “Our mother went to her grave unable to tend the grave of her son. If the people who know where Columba is buried could have seen what that did to my mother, if they could imagine their own mother in that position, they could not stay silent if they had any human feelings at all. I would like to look them in the eye and ask them, ‘Do you know what you have done?’”

The Bragan site was first examined by gardaí in 1999 and again the following year. New information was supplied two years ago and was thoroughly tested for 12 months before searching began in earnest.

'Cruel irony'

The search, now halted, restarted last spring after it was postponed last October with the onset of winter.

Sandra Peake, who leads the Wave Trauma Centre which supports the families of the disappeared, said: "The hearts of all the families of the disappeared will go out to the McVeigh family. It's a cruel irony that just as [former US special envoy] Richard Haass is looking at ways of dealing with the past a family is forced to endure more pain even though there is a process through the ICLVR already in place to deal with this terrible legacy of the Troubles."

The family has also released the last letter Columba wrote to his mother from Dublin.

After a brief description of the funeral of Éamon de Valera, his final words to his mother were: “Well I’ll say bye for now. God bless and take care. From your big son, Columba.”