Memorandum submitted by the Families of
Throughout the history of the troubles many
individuals have been killed and many families and communities
have struggled with the aftermath. One area which has been particularly
difficult is the issue of the disappeared. Abducted, murdered
and secretly buried, their families have struggled with the pain
and trauma of bereavement in addition to the agony of not knowing
where their loved one are buried and why and how they were taken.
In addition the community has often been silent concerning these
cases, with an underlying fear of the consequences of speaking
There are 17 known cases of individuals who
are suspected of having been murdered and secretly buried. Of
these 17, nine were named by the IRA in the spring of 1999 as
having been murdered by members of their organisation and their
bodies hidden across a number of areas in the south. The INLA
claimed one death that of Seamus Ruddy buried in a forest near
Rouen in France. The remaining are unclaimed, however the families
contend that given the circumstances and response following the
disappearances, members of the Provisional IRA were responsible
or at the very least can shed light on the fate of their loved
In May 1999 legislation was passed which facilitated
information to be passed through an intermediary, this led to
the identification of six burial sites. Extensive digs were conducted
and in only one of the sites were the remains of Brain McKinney
and John McClory found. For the rest there was inevitable disappointment
that there would be no closure and expectations were dashed. A
complete list of the disappeared including those found is included
in Annex 1.
There have been three other bodies recovered,
Eugene Simons in 1984, Eamon Molloy in June 1999 and Jean McConville
in August 2003.
Given the circumstances of many of the cases,
the families have been left isolated and vulnerable. It is only
in recent years that they have begun to meet together. These relationships
have been fostered through a yearly remembrance mass which is
held on Palm Sunday in St Patrick's School, Armagh. Archbishop
Brady in the main presides at this service which has brought immense
comfort to those who continue to struggle with the pain and grief
of loss in addition to the lack of knowledge of the final resting
place of their loved one. In addition a series of meetings with
political parties, Special Envoys and other special events has
also facilitated the families to build connections to each other.
There are a number of issues which are important
for this group:
1. The current priority given to the disappeared.
The families have seen periodic attention focused on the disappeared;
however a central concern is the priority of this issue in political
2. Current progress and role of the Commissions
(ers) for the Disappeared. While these Bodies have received information,
they have no role in developing or working on other ways to get
information. Given the silence which still exists in some areas,
other methods by which information can be obtained is required.
The families would be keen for these Bodies to have a more proactive
3. Specialist equipment and searching methods
from other counties going though similar processes are needed.
At present the sites identified are in the south therefore this
issue rests more with the southern authorities.
4. Documentation of sitesarchiving
of information concerning the areas excavated. Again this issue
rests with the southern authorities, given the location of the
5. The lack of death certificates for those
deceased. The families who have loved ones still missing are unable
to get death certificates and therefore their affairs remain open.
6. Contacts for the families in areas were
their loved ones are reportedly located for example with the French
7. Prevalent silence which still exists and
the need for exploration into ways this can be broken.
1972Seamus Wright from West Belfast,
disappeared with Kevin McKee on 2 October. Both men were allegedly
kidnapped and taken to south Armagh where they are believed to
have been murdered. Search conducted in Southern Ireland. Body
1972Kevin McKee from West Belfast, disappeared
with Seamus Wright. on 2 October. Both men were allegedly kidnapped
and taken to south Armagh where they were believed to have been
murdered. Search conducted in Southern Ireland. Body not recovered.
1972Jean McConville (37 yrs)taken
from her Divis home on 7 December and never seen again. Widowed
mother of 10 children. Search conducted at Templetown Beach, Co
Louth from May-July 1999. Body recovered 27 August 2003 at Shellinghill
Beach, Co Louth.
1974John McIlroy from Andersonstown,
Belfast disappeared on his way to work and has never been seen
again. Location of body unknown.
1974Seamus Wright from Andersonstown,
Belfast disappeared with John McIlroy and has never been seen
again. Location of body unknown.
1975Eamon Molloy Disappeared on 1 July.
Abducted and killed. Body located on 28 May 1999 in a coffin at
the Old Faughart Graveyard four miles outside Dandily.
1977Columba McVeigh (17 yrs) from Dungannon
was abducted and was reputedly murdered. Search conducted in Monaghan
border areabody never recovered.
1977Robert Nairac disappeared from a
south Armagh pub and was reputedly murdered and secretly buried.
Location of body unknown.
1978Brendan Megraw, from Twinbrook, Belfast
was kidnapped on 8 April from his home and has never been seen
again. Search conducted in Navan areabody never recovered.
1978John McClory (18 yrs) was kidnapped
on 25 May. Body found June 1999 along with Brian McKinney at Colgagh,
Iniskeen, Co Monaghan.
1978Brian McKinney (22 yrs) was taken
from his work on 25 May. John McClory had been kidnapped an hour
earlier. Both men were murdered. Body located June 1999 along
with John McClory at Colgagh, Iniskeen, Co Monaghan.
1979Gerard Evans from Crossmaglen disappeared
on his way home on 27 March. He was last seen on the roadside
outside Castleblaney trying to hitch a lift back home. Location
of body unknown.
1981Eugene Simons disappeared from his
Castlewellan home on 1 January when he went with "friends"
to buy milk and potatoes. His body was recovered by accident three
years later on 24 May 1984 in a bog in Dundallk.
1981Danny McIlhone disappeared from his
West Belfast home during 1981. Little is known about his disappearance.
Search conducted in Wicklow Hills near Blessingtown, Co Wicklow
from May to July 1989. Body never recovered.
1981Charlie Armstrong disappeared on
his way to Mass on 15 August. He has never been seen again. Search
conducted in May 2002 at Iniskeen, Co Monaghan. Further searches
have been conducted. Body not recovered.
1985Seamus Ruddy disappeared in Paris
on 9 May. His body has never been recovered despite a limited
search being conducted in 1999 at a forest near Rouen.
2003Gareth O'Connor disappeared on his
way to Dundalk on 11 May. He has never been seen again.