Funeral held for IRA murder victim Brendan Megraw
Tributes paid to Belfast man who was one of the Disappeared
Kieran Megraw (L) carries the remains of his brother Brendan in Belfast today. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
A mourner holds the the funeral mass card of Disappeared victim Brendan Megraw at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Belfast today. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The funeral of Brendan Megraw, one of the Disappeared, was held today in west Belfast.
A large crowd gathered today at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Lenadoon for requiem Mass for Mr Megraw.
He was abducted in April 1978 by the IRA from west Belfast, murdered and then secretly buried at Oristown bog in Co Meath. He was 23. Newly-married, his wife was expecting their first baby, a daughter, at the time.
People from Oristownwhere he was found also travelled to west Belfast to join mourners today.
Local parish priest Fr Aidan Brankin said that Mr Megraw was “finally getting the dignity of a funeral Mass”.
Fr Brankin described Mr Megraw as a man who loved metalwork, woodwork and just being creative. “He had just got a job on the ships and was due to start there the week after he was taken ,” he told the congregation.
“Brendan was very much into music and also his appearance - making sure every hair was in place before leaving the house, shoes were polished, ironing the crease on his trousers and - and then getting onto a motorbike. He loved bikes,” he said.
Among the mourners were many members of Families of The Disappeared, including children of Jean McConville.
During the offertory 17 candles were lit in the church to represent the Disappeared.
Mr Megraw was predeceased by his parents, Brigid and Robert and brothers Gerard and Joseph. His remaining siblings, Kieran, Sean and Deirdre joined hundreds of mourners for today’s funeral Mass.
His father died before he was abducted but, said Fr Brankin, his mother had always prayed and hoped her son would be found.
On October 1st, 36 years after he went missing, Mr Megraw’s remains were located in the bog after new information was provided to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR). Prayers were said for those who provided that information.
Mr Megraw’s burial is taking place at St Joseph’s cemetery in Glenavy, Co Antrim.
The two commissioners, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and Frank Murray joined mourners today, who also included former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan and her husband Declan. SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell joined Assembly colleagues Alex Attwood and Fearghal McKinney in the church.
DNA tests were carried out in Dublin to establish that the remains were those of Mr Megraw, with confirmation coming at the beginning of this month.
Mr Megraw, whom the IRA had described, as an “agent provocateur”, was one of 17 people disappeared by republican paramilitaries, with 16 of the victims believed killed by the IRA.
The Megraw family urged anyone that could help locate the bodies of the remaining six of the Disappeared to come forward with that information to the ICLVR, as did the Bishop of Meath Dr Michael Smith who participated in the funeral Mass.
The commission believes that at least one of the six Disappeared who have yet to be found is buried in the general area not far from Oristown bog. Joe Lynskey went missing in 1972. In 2010, the IRA admitted killing and secretly burying him.
The remaining five are Capt Robert Nairac, believed to have been shot dead close to the Border in the Louth/south Armagh area in 1977; Columba McVeigh who was murdered in 1975 and is believed to be buried in Co Monaghan; Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright who disappeared in1972 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.
There are 16 names on the ICLVR’s list with the 17th victim, Gareth O’Connor going missing in south Armagh in 2003. His name is not on the official list as he disappeared outside the official timeframe of the commission, which cuts off in April 1998 at the time of the signing of the Belfast Agreement. Mr O’Connor’s body was discovered in his car in Newry canal in June 2005.