Information on other remains is sketchy after all these years

INFORMATION on the location of nine people abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA was given to the Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

Three bodies were recovered, one by IRA members themselves and two others after an extensive four-week dig in Co Monaghan in 1999.

Along with the Templetown Beach excavation, teams of gardaí assisted by private contractors were directed to two sites in Co Meath, another in Monaghan and one in the Dublin mountains.

The remains at Shelling Hill, if they are those of Jean McConville, will have an impact on whether any further attempts are to made to find the other buried bodies.

While it could lead to an IRA rethink on the location of the five bodies, the more likely scenario is pessimistic; if its members were so adamant in good faith Templetown was where Mrs McConville was buried, how can their recollections be relied on to guide future digs?

The first body to be recovered was Eamon Molloy. The IRA left the body to be collected at Faughart graveyard in Co Louth. His name was not even on a list compiled by the Families of the Disappeared.

The remains of Brian McKinney and John McClorey were found in late June 1999. Petty criminals from west Belfast, the pair disappeared in May 1978. They were accused of robbing a pub frequented by IRA members.

Searches for the remains of five others were unsuccessful; Danny McIlhone, at Lagan in Co Wicklow; 17-year-old Columba McVeigh, near Emyvale in Co Monaghan; Brendan Megrew, at Oristown bog in Co Meath; and a double grave at Coghalstown Wood, also in Co Meath, for Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee.

While the IRA in Belfast and Tyrone co-operated in the moves to trace the bodies, members in south Armagh refused. Charles Armstrong, aged 55, was kidnapped while on his way to Mass in Crossmaglen, Armagh, in 1981. Gerald Anthony Evans, aged 24, from Crossmaglen, disappeared in March 1979. Sean Murphy, aged 25, from Armagh, disappeared after leaving home to visit his girlfriend in hospital in Newry, Co Down.

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