The Disappeared: Bishop urges information on Columba McVeigh

Bishop of Clogher urges a search of conscience to help end suffering of McVeigh family

A Catholic bishop is on Wednesday night appealing “in the name of humanity” to anyone with information about where one of the Disappeared, Columba McVeigh, is buried to bring it forward to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR).

At a special Mass in Emyvale, Co Monaghan, on Wednesday night the Bishop of Clogher Dr Liam McDaid was to urge anyone who knows about where Mr McVeigh was secretly buried 40 years ago to "search their conscience" and help end the suffering of the McVeigh family.

The Mass in Emyvale was to be held near Bragan bog, where it is believed Mr McVeigh was buried after being abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1975.

Four searches


Four searches, the most recent in September 2013, have been carried out in the bog since 1999 but Mr McVeigh’s remains have yet to be found.

The commission is hoping former IRA members directly or indirectly involved in Mr McVeigh’s murder and burial would come forward with more specific information to assist in the search.

Family members of the Disappeared point to how after an appeal by the Catholic Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, in September 2013, new information was given to the commission and that last October the remains of another of the Disappeared, Brendan Megraw, were recovered from Oristown bog in Co Meath.

‘Humanity and community’

“In the name of humanity and of this community, I would entreat anyone with any information to search their conscience and help bring an end to this suffering,” Bishop McDaid was to tell the Emyvale congregation, set to include other families of the Disappeared.

“For almost four decades the McVeigh family have had to bear the pain of the loss of Columba, a pain deepened almost beyond imagination by the fact that they have no grave to tend, no place to grieve,” he was to add.

Columba McVeigh’s brother Oliver was also to appeal for anyone with information to bring it forward. “The ICLVR needs more information to narrow down the search area to find Columba, just as they were able to do at Oristown and find Brendan Megraw,” he was to add. “How can anyone with a shred of humanity about them leave us like this after 40 years knowing that they could end our suffering?”

Sandra Peake, chief executive of the WAVE Trauma Centre, which has supported the families since 1995, was to say, "The families of the Disappeared appreciate the prayers and support of Bishop McDaid and the wider local community.

‘Cruel torment’

“They will not rest until Columba and all those who have yet to be recovered are returned to their families to bring an end to this cruel torment.”

The remains of 11 of the 17 Disappeared have been recovered.

The six yet to be recovered are Mr McVeigh; Joe Lynskey, who went missing from Belfast in 1972; Capt Robert Nairac, believed to have been shot dead close to the Border in the Louth/south Armagh area in 1977; Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright, who disappeared in 1972 and are believed buried in a bog at Coghalstown, near Wilkinstown in Co Meath; 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.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times