Northern Ireland news

Funeral held of 'tireless' campaigner Walter Simons, father of Disappeared victim Eugene

Walter Simons was one of the subjects in artist Colin Davidson's Silent Testimony exhibition
Brendan Hughes

THE funeral was held today of a "tireless" victims campaigner whose son was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA.

Mourners gathered at St Patrick's Church in Bryansford, Co Down for Requiem Mass for Walter Simons, who died at his home in Newcastle on Sunday aged 93.

His son Eugene Simons (26) went missing in Castlewellan in 1981. His body was discovered by chance three years later in a bog in Co Louth.

The Wave Trauma Centre said Mr Simons was a "strong lobbyist and supporter" for the families of the Disappeared even after his own son was found.

"He attended every Mass and travelled to each of the search sites if possible. He never forgot the struggle and turmoil the families faced in searching for their loved ones," it said in a Facebook tribute.

"Despite recent ill health he still asked about the ongoing search for Columba McVeigh. The McVeigh family were never far from his thoughts."

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.

Columba's brother Oliver McVeigh described Mr Simons as a "wonderful, kind and civil man".

Artist Colin Davidson captured the campaigner on canvas for his collection Silent Testimony – portraits of people who had experienced loss during the Troubles.

Mr Davidson posted the portrait on Twitter, adding: "Rest in peace dear Walter."

A family notice described Mr Simons as the beloved husband of the late Mary and loving father of Moira, Patricia, Angela, Brian, Nuala, Brendan, Maureen, Sheila, Geraldine, Pauline, Oonagh and the late Eugene.

Following Requiem Mass at St Patrick's Church, he was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

The funeral of Walter Simons on the way into St Patrick's Church in Bryansford for Requiem Mass. Picture by Hugh Russell

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