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SERVICES 
Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 09:42 GMT
Appeal to IRA over 'Disappeared'
The service was held in St Anne's Cathedral
The service was held in St Anne's Cathedral
A new appeal has been made to the IRA to provide further information on Northern Ireland's murder victims known as The Disappeared.

The republican paramilitary group abducted and murdered several people during the 1970s.

The bodies of only three victims the IRA admitted killing have been found at unmarked graves after being pinpointed by an IRA intermediary.

This was after massive areas of land were excavated in the border counties Louth, Wicklow, Monaghan and Meath. Six other bodies have never been found.

Burial sites

At a special service for victims on Tuesday, former victims' commissioner Sir Kenneth Bloomfield asked the IRA for fresh clues to the burial sites.

Sir Kenneth: Appeal for further information
Sir Kenneth: Appeal for further information

"Even now, at this late hour, I appeal for any further information about the fate of The Disappeared which would restore to grieving relatives the remains of a loved-one, lost so many years ago," he said.

"I continue to believe that we need a commissioner or ombudsman for victims," he said.

"A person wholly independent both of national and provincial government, who can ensure that the interests of the victims will never be overlooked."

Sir Kenneth told the service at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast that those who had suffered must not be forgotten amid the hope created by the IRA's decision to destroy some of its weapons.

He also said those who fled Northern Ireland because of paramilitary threats should be allowed to return without fear of attack.

"Since prisoners have been released and persons suspected of serious crime are to be free from prosecution, we can no longer tolerate the exile from Northern Ireland of people forced out by threat and intimidation," he said.

Tribute

Sir Kenneth paid tribute to those people who had written to him during his time as victims' commissioner.

"In those exchanges what was communicated above all else was the unique value of an individual human life," he said.

He also called on the government to appoint an independent ombudsman to represent victims in Northern Ireland.

"I would see the advantage of having an individual who would protect victims' rights in the way that consumers' rights are protected," he said.

The issue of The Disappeared victims of the Troubles was highlighted in March 1999 after the IRA admitted killing nine people and gave a commitment to help to find their graves.

The IRA announced it had set up a special unit under what it called "one of our most senior officers" to investigate the disappearances and enable the families of their victims to hold proper burials.

After massive excavations of sites on both sides of the Northern Ireland border, the remains of Eamon Molloy, who disappeared in 1975, John McClory, 17, and Brian McKinney, 23, who are thought to have been be murdered in 1978, were found.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Barbara Collins reports:
"Sir Kenneth Bloomfield appealed for information on the Disappeared and called for a victims' commissioner to be appointed"
See also:

29 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Search for IRA victims to resume
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