Funeral of ‘disappeared’ Kevin McKee held in Belfast

Mourners told body recovery was a part of Northern Ireland peace process that was working

White doves are released following the funeral of Kevin McKee at St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

White doves are released following the funeral of Kevin McKee at St Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire


Recovery of the ‘disappeared’ was a part of the peace process in Northern Ireland that was working and had proven itself, the funeral Mass for Kevin McKee was told in St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast on Monday.

Mr McKee (16) disappeared on October 2nd 1972 and his remains were discovered at Coglanstown, Co Meath last June. Also found there were the remains of Seamus Wright who disappeared on the same day in 1972. Both were killed by the IRA. Mr Wright’s funeral takes place in Belfast on Tuesday .

At Mr McKee’s funeral Mass, celebrant Fr Michael Murtagh thanked those who helped to recover his body and commended the process in place to recover the bodies of the disappeared, as well as commending those who provided information .

“It is a part of our sometimes faltering peace process that is working, has proved itself to be robust and very confidential for those who have chosen to work with it.

“We encourage those who might have further information to recover the remaining four bodies to take that leap of faith and share what they have with the relevant confidential channels. The relief and closure it gives to family and loved ones can never be underestimated,” he said.

They were there “to give Kevin McKee a Christian burial”, he said. “This is happening 43 years late but it is still so important that we do it. It is important for Kevin and for his family that they are given the chance to grieve publicly and acknowledge the awful tragedy his murder and secret burial was,” he said.

“We commend Kevin to God’s loving mercy and do this today publicly and solemnly, still trusting that he went to God when his life was brutally taken 43 years ago,” he said.

Fr Murtagh spoke of the “double loss of his young life and then the right to bury him.” He reminded the congregation of how this affected “each of his family members, those living and those dead especially his late mother Mary”.

“We acknowledge the 43 years of pain, of wondering, of uncertainty and not knowing what had happened. We acknowledge that at times there were very few to turn to and it was a lonely road for them to travel. We commend the family’s resilience and all that they have come through,” he said.

Chief mourners were Mr McKee’s sisters Marie, Philomena, Michelle, Katrina, and his brother Michael.

Among the attendance were Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and Fred Murray of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victim’s Remains, representatives of the Garda and the Northern secretariat, Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, Bishop Anthony Farquhar representing the diocese of Down and Connor, Fr John O’Brien parish priest of Wilkinstown Co Meath where the remains were located, and Fr Paul Turley of St Peter’s Cathedral parish

Also in attendance were family members of all 17 ‘disappeared’ as well of the remaining four yet to be found. Candles representing all 17 were carried to the altar at the offertory by relatives.