Northern Ireland news

Search for Columba McVeigh resumes in Monaghan

Oliver McVeigh with his sister Dympna Kerr, relatives of Columba McVeigh, at a bog in Emyvale, Co Monaghan during the search last year. Picture by Bill Smyth.

THE painstaking search for the remains of IRA victim Columba McVeigh will resume today at a remote Bragan Bog in Co Monaghan.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) tasked with finding the so called 'Disappeared', will search the bogland for the remains of the teenager who was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975.

It follows on from a search that started in September 2018 and was suspended in early November when weather conditions deteriorated making the hunt impossible.

Jon Hill, senior investigator with the ICLVR who is leading the search, said the team was waiting until the area was safe for the search to resume.

"It has taken quite a while for the bog to dry out sufficiently for us to get the plant and machinery back in action," he said.

"We’ve managed to do some preparatory work in advance of today and so we're able to get down to the search proper straight away.

"Obviously our hope is that we find Columba at an early stage but as ever we’ll have to wait to see."

A team of highly skilled contractors and forensic archaeologists are working at the site.

The bodies of 13 victims have so far been recovered and last week the charity CrimeStoppers announced that an anonymous donor had put up a reward totalling $60,000 for information that results in the recovery of the remains of the three outstanding Disappeared cases.

This includes Columba McVeigh along with former monk Joe Lynskey, who disappeared in 1972, and British soldier Robert Nairac who was killed in 1977.

Geoff Knupfer, the lead investigator with the ICLVR, said the search for Columba was underway well before the reward was made available and therefore it can only be claimed on the basis of new information.

"We want to find Columba as quickly as possible and as things stand that would be on the basis of existing information."

If found without new information the money allocated to Columba’s case will be divided equally between the two other missing victims, Lynskey and Nairac.

Information given to CrimeStoppers will be given only to the ICLVR and at all times treated in complete and total confidence.

The Crimestoppers phone line is 0800 555 111 and the untraceable anonymous online form is at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone: 00800-55585500 International:00353 1 602 8655

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