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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
New victims search welcomed
Only three bodies found in first searches
Relatives hope new searches will find remains
Relatives of an IRA victim have welcomed the news that a date has been set for a search to resume for her remains.

The Irish victims' commission has said new searches for six people secretly abducted and murdered by the IRA in the 1970s will begin on Tuesday.

Excavations for the bodies began in the Republic of Ireland in May 1999, but were stopped in July after extensive digs because of a lack of precise information from the IRA.

Only three sets of remains were found last summer, but the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains has said it has received new information on where to dig.

Helen and Seamus McKendry, the daughter and son-in-law of Jean McConville, who vanished after helping a fatally injured British soldier shot outside her house in 1972, welcomed the news.

They said they could never give up hope her body would be found.

Seamus McKendry: We can't give up hope
Seamus McKendry: We can't give up hope
The couple spent weeks watching the unsuccessful excavation at Templetown beach on Carlingford Lough in County Louth along with other family members last year.

Mr McKendry said: "We are clutching at straws. We've got to go.

"When someone says jump we've got to jump.

"We can't live the way we have been living all these years.

"Jean McConville is entitled to be laid to rest in the proper fashion as indeed all the individuals are.

Helen McKendry: We can't yet grieve
Helen McKendry: We can't yet grieve
Helen McKendry said: "I don't think there will ever be an end to the story until we get the remains, until we can actually have a funeral and be able to grieve."

The searches are also to resume for Columba McVeigh at Bragan in County Monaghan, Danny McIlhone at Ballynultagh in County Wicklow, Seamus McKee and Seamus Wright in Coghallstown near Navan in County Meath, Brendan Megraw at Oristown near Kells in County Meath.

The victims found last year were Eamon Molloy, left in a coffin in a graveyard in County Louth, and John McClory and Brian McKinney, whose remains were uncovered after weeks of digging in County Monaghan.

The commission said the new searches are not expected to last more than three weeks.

In a statement it said the searches "will be focused and limited in extent and it is not expected that any search will last longer than three weeks, irrespective of the outcome".

Commissioner John Wilson said: "We resuming the excavations on all of the sites on which we have worked already, on Tuesday next provided the weather is reasonable.

'Gardai will spare no effort'

He added: "The commissioners thoughts are with the families concerned at this difficult time. We are confident, however, that whist success cannot be guaranteed, the Gardai will spare no effort in bringing these searches to a speedy and successful conclusion."

He told the BBC that although last summer the commission believed it had very precise information which led to disappointment, there was still hope that the new information they had received from the IRA's intermediary would bring results.

"When we suspended the searches before we indicated that there didn't seem to be much point in continuing, but we said if we got new information, specific information that we would do so.

"We sought new information through our intermediary. We got it and sent it back for rechecking. And after examining the rechecked information we decided as there was hope, that it was worth restarting."

But he added that he did not want to unduly raise the expectations of the families of the Disappeared.

"I was very careful that in the my communication to the families, that I didn't want to raise false hopes.

"I knew they had been through enough stress and grief already and consequently I was toning down the expectations," he said.

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See also:

25 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Victims' sons lose faith in search
07 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Hopes raised over 'Disappeared' remains
30 May 99 | Europe
Search resumes for IRA victims
28 May 99 | UK
Tragedies of the Troubles
27 May 99 | UK Politics
Families of disappeared wait and pray
30 May 99 | Europe
Long wait over IRA victims
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