Ireland

Stories of the Disappeared must never be forgotten, says James Nesbitt

Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA)
Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA) Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA)

The stories of the Disappeared must never be forgotten, Northern Ireland-born actor James Nesbitt has said.

Seventeen people were killed and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.

Co Down woman Lisa Dorrian, who disappeared in 2015 and is believed to have been murdered, has joined their number.

Nesbitt, a patron of the WAVE Trauma Centre which supports the Disappeared families, joined their annual silent walk on All Souls Day at Stormont.

Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont
Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont Dympna Kerr, the sister of Columba McVeigh, lays the wreath during the 17th annual All Souls Silent Walk for the Disappeared at Stormont (Liam McBurney/PA)

A black wreath with five white lilies representing those who have yet to be found – Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh, Robert Nairac, Seamus Maguire and Ms Dorrian – was laid at the steps of Parliament Buildings.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) were thanked during proceedings for their work in recovering several of the Disappeared.

They remain involved in the latest search for Mr McVeigh at Bragan Bog in Co Monaghan, which is set to draw to a close soon.

Nesbitt said the remaining five families waiting for their loved ones to be found are becoming desperate, and urged anyone with any information to come forward.

“This is the 17th occasion there has been a silent walk on All Souls Day, remembering the families of the Disappeared and the victims, and appealing for the return of the remaining five,” he said.

“It’s a day of contemplation, it’s a day of celebration in a way for those families that have been lucky enough in the past to have been able to locate their loved ones’ remains, but it’s really about the five remaining families who are just desperate now.

Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt, left, takes part in a silent walk with the families of the Disappeared
Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt, left, takes part in a silent walk with the families of the Disappeared Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt, left, takes part in a silent walk with the families of the Disappeared (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I think we’re aware now the recent dig for Columba McVeigh is coming to an end. That’s 48 years, 48 Christmases where for the McVeigh family, the only present they can hope for is to walk behind the coffin of their brother.”

He went on: “We’re here to remember, to get together and to try and jog anyone’s memory to see if they can do the right thing and help these families, to give them the opportunity they’ve been desperately praying and waiting for for so long.

“I have spent a lot of time with these families, their stories must not be forgotten.

“We are trying to locate even the tiniest sliver of a memory in someone’s conscious where they think, seeing all these families, seeing the anguish and the despair that they can somehow find it in their hearts to come forward in complete confidentiality to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

“We just want them to come forward and try to give these people, finally, some closure, and let them get on with the rest of their lives, and not always having this awful feeling of ‘where is he?’, or ‘where is she?'”

Anyone with information on any of the four outstanding ICLVR Disappeared cases should contact the ICLVR by telephone: 00800-55585500, email secretary@iclvr.ie or by post to: ICLVR PO Box 10827.

Anyone with information about Ms Dorrian should call the detectives working on the case on 101 or they can provide information without leaving their name or giving their details through the independent charity Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.