Visitors moved by Belfast exhibition on the Disappeared

Up to 10,000 people learn of the suffering and loss of bereaved families

Louth TD Ged Nash: attended exhibition. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ten-year-old Alessandra Fleming, over from Perth in Australia, was walking around the exhibition room in Belfast City Hall listening to her mother Christina explaining about the Disappeared.

Quietly and with a young girl’s solemnity, she took in the detail written on the 7ft x 4ft exhibition boards about the 17 people who were abducted, killed and secretly buried in bogs and beaches in different parts of the island.

It’s a very simple exhibition, just names and faces, biographical notes and a book of condolence, but it leaves an impression.

“I think it’s quite sad that some of the people killed in the war have gone away and that you can’t find them,” said Alessandra as she tried to get a grip on the individual stories.


Her mother Christina, who is originally from Northern Ireland, said she felt great compassion for the bereaved, particularly as her parents had died in the past year.

The Flemings are among some 10,000 people who have attended the exhibition in the past month or so at City Hall. Familiar faces stare out from the boards, names such as Jean McConville, Columba McVeigh, Captain Robert Nairac, Kevin McKee, Brendan Megraw and all the others.

Also there yesterday were family members of the Disappeared such as Michael McConville, Oliver McVeigh, Phil McKee and Kieran Megraw.

They were explaining to the delegation of Labour TDs – Ged Nash, Jack Wall, Aodhán Ó Riordáin and Robert Dowds – why they intend continuing with their campaign until the remaining seven bodies are recovered.

Mr Nash said he found the exhibition "heart-rending". He told the families that he now hopes to stage the exhibition in his own constituency of Louth and to bring it to other parts of Ireland.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times