Move to distance IRA from missing west Belfast man

The republican leadership last night moved to distance the IRA from the disappearance of west Belfast man Peter Wilson in 1973.

Last week, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains confirmed that another case had been reported to it.

Since then, there have been news reports suggesting Mr Wilson may have been abducted and shot by the IRA — making him one of the “disappeared”.

But now a senior republican source has contacted sister paper The Belfast Telegraph. The paper knows his identity.

On many occasions in the past he has spoken with the authority of the republican leadership at key moments in the peace process.

In a brief comment the source told the Belfast Telegraph: “The IRA was not responsible for the disappearance of Peter Wilson.”

That comment, the source said, was “on-the-record”. This is the IRA speaking in all but name.

Since the ending of its armed campaign and the decommissioning that followed, that organisation has only rarely issued public statements.

One of the last times it did was in July 2006 when it repeated its claim that Jean McConville was “working as an informer for the British Army”.

In 1972, the IRA “executed” and “disappeared” the Belfast mother-of-ten.

Her remains were not found until 2003.

The IRA’s position on the “disappeared” was set out in a detailed briefing more than 10 years ago, in March 1999.

At that time the republican organisation, speaking through its leadership spokesman ‘P O’Neill’, said it believed it had |located “the whereabouts of |the graves of nine people”.

Their names were then listed — Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Eamon Molloy, Jean McConville, Columba McVeigh, Brendan Megraw, John McClory, Brian McKinney and Danny McIlhone.

The IRA also said it had “endeavoured to locate the burial site of British SAS operative Robert Nairac”, but was unable to do so.

Since that statement a decade ago the remains of a number of those named have been found, but the graves of others have not yet been located.

There was no mention of Peter Wilson in that briefing more |than a decade ago, nor has he been named in the many IRA statements on the disappeared since.

The west Belfast man was 21 when he went missing in 1973.

The senior republican who |contacted this newspaper yesterday, has now dashed hopes that the IRA might be able to provide information on this case.

This newspaper understands that republicans are still cooperating with the Independent |Commission for the Location |of Victims’ Remains on other cases.

Source: The Belfast Telegraph