Behind the story: Allison Morris on how she broke the story of Joe Lynskey's IRA execution

A dig of bogland in Co Meath has led to the discovery of human remains believed to be Joe Lynskey

On December 7 2009 the Irish News carried a front page exclusive story revealing that west Belfast man Joe Lynskey had been murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

The article was the culmination of a lengthy investigation by myself. Tracking down information on the former IRA intelligence officer was difficult, but eventually former republicans who had observed the law of Omerta for almost 40 years began to reveal details of the events surrounding his disappearance in 1972.

The controversial circumstances surrounding his murder and clandestine burial were initially only known to a few members of the IRA.

A Monaghan man who was a member of a small IRA unit guarding Mr Lynskey in the days leading up to his death later contacted me to give further details about the murder.

He claimed Mr Lynskey was held in an IRA safe-house between Castleblayney and Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, some time in August 1972. The victim was in the house for more than a week waiting for senior IRA members to arrive from north of the border to carry out an internal “court martial” which sealed his fate.

Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price also contacted the Irish News to reveal she had collected Mr Lynskey from a house in west Belfast and drove him to Monaghan. She told me he was not forced at gunpoint but went of his own free will.

She begged him to let her take him to the port to get a boat to England but she said he insisted she carry out her orders.

Joe Lynskey was the first person to be 'disappeared' by the IRA, he had previously studied at Bethlehem Abbey in Portglenone, Co Antrim, in the early 1950s training to be a Cistercian monk

Following the publication of the Irish News article the IRA was forced to issue a statement admitting their role in killing the west Belfast man.

Mr Lynskey fate was sealed after he had a relationship with the wife of another IRA man and, acting without the sanction of the organisation he ordered his love rival be shot.

The man survived the gun attack but confusion around who ordered the shooting lead to raised tensions between the then fledging Provisional and the Official IRA who it was initially thought carried out the murder attempt.

In February 2010 the Independent Commission for the Location for Victims Remains (ICLVR) added him to the list of people they were looking for. Former IRA members cooperated with the commission giving details of a site in Coghalstown, County Meath where he had been secretly buried.

A niece, Marie Lynskey, bravely came forward and made repeated appeals for information about her uncle to help find his remains and finally give the deeply religious former monk a dignified Christian burial.

Remains have now been found and while the state pathologist will begin the process of postmortem and of formal identification it is widely believed that almost 43 years after his disappearance they are the remains of Joe Lynskey.


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