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Sunday, May 30, 1999 Published at 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK

World: Europe

Search resumes for IRA victims

Police will use radar equipment in Sunday's searches

Irish police have resumed an operation to exhume the bodies of eight people murdered by the IRA in the 1970s.

The Search for Peace
Officers are working at three of several pinpointed sites across four counties, including Wicklow, south of Dublin.

One body was recovered on Friday and Garda officers spent Saturday evening digging for a second at a car park next to the beach at Carlingford, County Louth.

Denis Murray reports: "The remains are believed to be those of Mrs Jean McConville"
The victim believed to be buried there is Jean McConville - a mother of 10 who was seized by the IRA from her home in Belfast in 1972.

Her son-in-law, Seamus McKendry, joined other family members at the site on Saturday.

He said: "In a warped sense we are delighted to be here. It is the final chapter of 27 years of agony."

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin: "Let's deal with the families' trauma"
But he also spoke of his fear that nothing will be found: "I hope they're right but I find it incredible that they can say that this is the location. There are no obvious landmarks where someone could remember where a body was."

Similar search operations are under way in nearby Co Monaghan and at a spot close to the Co Wicklow town of Blessington. Officers have also been told about locations in Co Meath.

Seamus McKendry: "It's the final chapter in years of agony for our family"
Radar equipment will be used to gauge whether earth in the vicinity has been moved.

Details about the secret burial sites were given to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) by IRA intermediaries.

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Under new laws that have just come into force, the police will not run a criminal investigation to find either the perpetrators or those who supplied the information to the intermediaries.

The Carlingford dig is being led by Superintendent Michael Staunton, who said his team may encounter some difficulties during the recovery process.

"We have to reply on the information provided to us under these arrangements, we're guided entirely by this information," he said.

Two parts of the car park have been pointed out to officers by the ICLVR.

Tests are being carried out to identify the body found on Friday. The remains are thought to be those of Eamon Molloy - an alleged IRA informer missing from Belfast since 1975.

Denis Murray: "The information is very precise and detailed"
The body was moved from another site and left in a new coffin above ground in County Louth's ancient Faughart graveyard, just metres inside the border, near Dundalk.

Teams of pathologists from Irish universities are on standby to exhume the other bodies as soon as their locations are confirmed.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticus: "The body hasn't yet been formally identified"
Sinn Fein Chairman Mitchel McLaughlin says it is not clear why the IRA abducted and murdered the eight people - known as the "disappeared" - at the centre of the hunt.

But he welcomed the paramilitary group's co-operation with the police.

He added: "Let's, if we can, deal with the trauma that was caused to families who were innocent of any wrong doing or involvement in the war."

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