Remains of suspected IRA victim removed from beach

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The Independent Online

Body remains dug up on a beach in Northern Ireland where an IRA murder victim was secretly buried after going missing nearly 40 years ago were removed today.

The family of Peter Wilson, 21, gathered for a prayer service on the Co Antrim coast as the remains were taken away for formal identification.



Mr Wilson would be the ninth so-called Disappeared victim to be recovered. He was abducted and later killed by the Provisionals after leaving his home in west Belfast in August 1973.



Archaeologists and other experts carried out a painstaking examination in the seaside village of Waterfoot in the Glens of Antrim.



The unemployed Catholic man, who had learning disabilities, left his home in the Beechmount area of west Belfast.



Fifteen men and one woman disappeared during the Troubles and their families fear they were killed by republicans.



The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) has been behind the search which produced the remains yesterday.



Mr Wilson's family believes the IRA was responsible for the murder although the organisation's leadership has never officially admitted the killing.



The new search by the ICLVR was triggered by a tip-off understood to have come from within the republican movement.



In a cruel twist it has emerged that Mr Wilson's mother, brother and sisters often visited the beauty spot without ever knowing he could have been buried beneath their feet.



The latest excavation is the first search undertaken in Northern Ireland and the first in a populated area.



Patricia Gearon, sister of Mr Wilson, carried a wreath yesterday in a silent walk at Parliament Buildings for the Disappeared.



Other victims' families attending included Kathleen Armstrong, who carried a black wreath with white lilies symbolising those who have not been found. This year she removed one of the lilies following the recovery of the body of her husband Charlie in July.



Mrs Armstrong and her family were accompanied by friend and neighbour Mary Evans, who is awaiting DNA confirmation that remains found last month are that of her son Gerry.