Northern Ireland

Silent Walk in memory of the Disappeared is socially distant this year due to Covid restrictions

Oliver McVeigh, whose brother Columba McVeigh was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975, leads a Silent Walk in memory of those who were Disappeared at Stormon. A wreath was laid on the steps of Parliament Buildings to commemorate the victims. Picture by Stephen Davison
Oliver McVeigh, whose brother Columba McVeigh was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975, leads a Silent Walk in memory of those who were Disappeared at Stormon. A wreath was laid on the steps of Parliament Buildings to commemorate the victims. Picture by Stephen Davison

FOR the fourteenth year the All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared has taken place at Stormont - this time with a reduced number of families because of coronavirus restrictions.

The small group was led to the steps of Parliament Buildings at noon yesterday by Oliver McVeigh whose brother Columba from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975.

Mr McVeigh laid a black wreath with white lilies representing those who have yet to be found on the steps.

October 31 was the 45th anniversary of Columba's disappearance - he was one of the first to be murdered and secretly buried and his name is written on his late mother's headstone in the hope that he would be found.

The latest search for his remains in Co Monaghan ended without success.

Also present was the sister of Peter Wilson, whose family heard 10 year ago on November 2 2010 that his remains had been found.

Three lilies represented Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh and Robert Nairac, who is believed to have been abducted from a bar in south Armagh in May 1977.

Unsuccessful searches have taken place for his remains at Ravensdale Forest in Co Louth.

Former Cistercian monk Joe Lynskey went missing from his west Belfast home in May 1972 and searches have taken place for his remains in Co Meath, but ended without success.

A fourth white lily was added for Lisa Dorrian who disappeared in 2005.

The shop assistant from Bangor in Co Down who disappeared after a party at a caravan site 15 years ago and her father John and her sister Michelle joined the other families at Stormont.

Fr Joe Gormley from Creggan lead prayers and Fr Paul Turley lit candles of remembrance at noon in Clonard and prayed for the families.

Sandra Peake of the Wave Trauma Centre said the suffering of relatives of the Disappeared would not end until people came forward and gave information.

"There are people out there who know and can provide help to the families. Everyone deserves to be able to lay their loved ones to rest.

"It is the families tormented by withholding information and nobody deserves that."