Bodies found in bog may be two of the Disappeared
THE families of two of the Disappeared believe their 40-year torment could be at an end.
Two bodies discovered in a remote reclaimed bog in Co Meath are thought to be those of Seamus Wright (25) and Kevin McKee (17). The pair vanished from Belfast in October 1972.
Visiting the scene of a forensic search at a farm near Coghalstown, the families of both men said the find has given them hope.
"We hope that we can at last see an end to the torment that has lasted over 40 years and bring Seamus and Kevin home," they said in a joint statement.
The bodies will undergo DNA tests over the next few weeks.
The grave was found during a search on the site for Joe Lynskey, a former monk who also went missing from Belfast in August 1972.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) initially thought the remains found on Thursday were those of Mr Lynskey.
Late on Thursday the ICLVR said "more than one body" had been found during the search for Mr Lynskey.
But yesterday it emerged that the remains are understood to be those of Mr Wright and Mr McKee.
The Wright and McKee families yesterday thanked the commission and "whoever provided information" that led to the latest discovery.
"Without that information this would never have happened," they said.
"While this will change the lives of our families, our thoughts are with the Lynskey family and all those who still wait for the news that their loved ones have been found. We pray for them."
Both families appealed for privacy over the coming weeks and months.
Geoff Knupfer, lead forensic investigator with the ICLVR, said work to find Mr Lynskey will not end.
"Speculation at this stage is that these could be those two boys. We don't know and obviously it's too early to start jumping to conclusions," he said.
"But if it turns out that it is Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee we will continue to search this site for Joe Lynskey."
Members of the Wright family were first on the site yesterday morning, spending several hours talking to ICLVR investigators and overlooking the grave area.
Some of the McKee family joined them later.
Mr Knupfer spoke of their mixed emotions as they were shown the site.
"It's a mixture of sadness and elation," he said.
"Sadness that it confirms, assuming that the identities are confirmed, that their loved ones were abducted and murdered, and then the elation that they will get some closure at the end of this."
Local priest Fr John O'Brien was also on the farm to spend time with relatives.
Mr Lynskey's niece Maria visited the site on Thursday night.
Post-mortem examinations will take place over the next few days.
The grave is believed to have been about one metre (3.28ft) deep when it was dug in the 1970s and remained untouched since.
The two bodies were dumped one on top of the other.
Samples will be taken from the remains for DNA examination at a specialist laboratory in the UK that the ICLVR has used previously.
It may be weeks before results confirm a match, with profiles of living relatives already taken.
Joe Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk from Beechmount in west Belfast.
He was abducted and murdered by the IRA in August 1972, but the paramilitary group only admitted to being behind his disappearance in 2010.
Mr Wright and Mr McKee, who were both IRA men from Belfast, were abducted and killed in October 1972 after they were accused of being British army agents.
The Disappeared were 17 people abducted, killed and clandestinely dumped or buried by republicans, mostly during the 1970s and early 1980s.
The list of Disappeared includes Gareth O'Connor who was murdered in 2003. His body was recovered on June 11 2005 at Victoria Quay, Newry Canal, Co Louth.
The ICLVR has investigated 16 of the abductions and murders.
The most recent confirmed discovery was that of Brendan Megraw, whose remains were found in Oristown bog, also in Co Meath, last October.
Tackle today's puzzles
The document has moved here.