Victims' return may be delayed

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The Independent Online
FAMILIES OF Ulster's "disappeared" were still waiting last night for information that would lead them to the hidden graves of their loved ones.

The relief that greeted Monday night's IRA confirmation that it had pinpointed the burial sites of nine of its victims turned to unease as the relatives realised it may be some time before the bodies are returned. It was thought the organisation may not disclose the location of the remains until the British and Irish governments granted it an amnesty, to ensure evidence linked to the cases would not be used in criminal prosecutions.

The Irish government was understood to be willing to push changes to the law through its parliament but, because of the Easter break, amendments could probably not have been made before the end of April.

Government officials in the North were uncertain about when and how the legislative changes would be made.

Margaret McKinney, 68, whose son Brian disappeared at the same time as John McClory 21 years ago, had heard nothing since being told that the grave had been pinpointed. "I thought it was all over last night, but I haven't heard anything since," she said. "I have waited all this time, that's why I'm so impatient. I can't wait to get it over with now."

Sinn Fein's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said he was hopeful the bodies would be recovered soon. "Looking at the statement, it seems very clear the IRA would not have issued it if they did not intend to press on to make sure the bodies are recovered so we can approach all of it with a degree of confidence that this will come to fruition."

But Monsignor Denis Faul, a priest and a former Maze Prison chaplain who played a leading role in ending the hunger strikes, was less optimistic. He thought it would be extremely difficult for the IRA to pinpoint where the victims were buried.