IRA Disappeared victims: at least two bodies found in search for Joe Lynskey, say investigators


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The Independent Online

At least two bodies have been found in bogland in the Republic of Ireland, where ‘disappeared’ victims of the IRA are believed to have been secretly buried during the Troubles.

The discovery was made yesterday by investigators searching for the remains of Joe Lynskey, a former Cistercian monk who was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972.

The remains of at least one other unidentified person have also been found in the search. Two others of the Disappeared victims are believed to have been buried in the same area, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee.

The discovery took place yesterday in Coghalstown, in Meath, where The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) have been searching a site since March. The site is now farmland but was wild bogland during the 1970s when the burials are understood to have taken place in unmarked graves.

The term ‘the Disappeared’ denotes victims from the Troubles who were murdered and secretly buried in unknown locations by Republicans.

Speaking yesterday, a spokesperson for the ICLVR said of the new discoveries: “We have always said that we think three bodies are in that area and until there is further identification we just don’t know.”

Pictured in December 2014, Geoff Knupfer, the lead forensic scientist and investigator for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR), holds a picture of Joe Lynskey at the site where his remains are believed to have been found.

DNA samples have been taken and will be processed to determine the identities of the remains. The process is expected to last several weeks.

Jon Hill, senior investigator with the ICLVR, spoke with Mr Lynskey’s family after they were informed of the discovery and said: “They were shocked but in a way pleased. They are always hopeful, of course, but they are prepared to not find their loved ones as well.

“It’s such a difficult process. There are no guarantees, it’s something that we always try to impress on the families. But when it does come around it’s a great shock and a great relief at the same time.”

Mr Lynskey’s niece Maria said: “We would like to thank the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains and those who have engaged with the commission in the search for Joe. Our thoughts are with the other families whose loved ones remain disappeared.”

Maria Lynskey, niece of Joe Lynskey, pictured laying a rose in December 2014 at a memorial in honour of the Disappeared

Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, welcomed the news: “I hope the discovery of remains in Co Meath will allow another chapter to be closed in the tragic saga of the Disappeared. For a family to be bereaved but denied the opportunity to bury their loved one n a trauma that is hard to imagine.”

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he also welcomed the discovery and called for anyone with information on the Disappeared to come forward: “I welcome this news. I hope the identity of the remains can be quickly verified and that this discovery will bring some closure to the family and loved ones.”

Gerry Adams has welcomed the discovery and called for anyone with information on the Disappeared to inform authorities

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains was established in 1999 by an international treaty between the Republic of Ireland and British government. A condition of the organisation is that no information obtained in its search for bodies can be used in criminal proceedings.

It has searched for 16 people who have been officially listed as the Disappeared. So far, the remains of 10 victims have been identified and returned to their families.