Northern Ireland news

Reward to find Disappeared victims a potential 'game-changer'

Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac
Brendan Hughes

A REWARD of almost £50,000 donated anonymously to help find the bodies of the Disappeared could be a "game-changer", investigators have said.

The donation of $60,000 (£47,191) has been offered for new information that results in finding Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac.

They were among 16 people, known as the Disappeared, who were murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles, and are the only three yet to be found.

Crimestoppers, which received the donation, said it amounted to $20,000 dollars (€17,900/ £15,700) for the recovery of each body.

"Our reward is not about finding out what happened to these people," said Fiona McCormack, director of operations for the charity.

"The families of those who have yet to be found deserve to be able to hold a long-overdue funeral for their relatives."

Any information Crimestoppers receives will be passed only to the Independent Commission for the Location of the Victims' Remains (ICLVR), which was set up to help locate the bodies of the Disappeared.

Geoff Knupfer, ICLVR's lead investigator, told the BBC the reward "might prove to be a game-changer".

"Whether or not it helps bring forward information that we haven't had to date and which results in the location and recovery of the remains we'll have to wait to see," he added.

"If it does it will be a hugely significant breakthrough.

"We should never lose sight of the fact that the whole issue of the Disappeared is fundamentally a humanitarian one.

"There are three families who have suffered so much and are still waiting for their loved ones to be brought home for Christian burial."

Mr McVeigh (19), from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, was abducted, shot and secretly buried by the IRA in November 1975.

Republicans have told the commission the 19-year-old was buried across the border in Bragan bog near Emyvale, but searches have not uncovered his remains.

Mr McVeigh's brother Oliver described the anonymous donation offered as "great news", adding: "Anything that helps the recovery process is very welcome."

Former Cistercian monk Mr Lynskey was kidnapped in west Belfast in August 1972, while British soldier Mr Nairac (29) was taken in south Armagh and killed by the IRA in 1977.

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