Sunday, May 9, 1999 Published at 03:37 GMT 04:37 UK
Hope for families of 'disappeared'
Seamus Ruddy, Charlie Armstrong, John McClory, Brian McKinney
After years of suffering and anguish, an end could be in sight for the grieving relatives of Northern Ireland's "disappeared".
The Northern Ireland Location of Victims' Remains Bill will come up for debate in the House of Commons again on Monday.
Crucially, the law will provide immunity from prosecution following any evidence that might arise if and when the bodies are recovered.
But for some of the families of those who went missing in the 1970s and early 1980s it represents hope that they might finally lay ghosts to rest.
"Hell; the darkest, darkest corner of Hell," is how Margaret McKinney describes the last 21 years of her life, since her son Brian vanished one spring morning in 1978.
His parents made him give back the money and it seemed the matter had been "resolved".
But when he failed to return hope from work soon after, alarm bells began to ring for Mrs McKinney.
There was no question of calling in the police, so the family just sat and waited. As days turn to months, and months to years, the stress began to take its toll on Mrs McKinney.
Mrs McKinney can however, take some comfort from the fact that Brian's remains have apparently been pin-pointed by the IRA.
In March the IRA issued a statement identifying the secret graves of nine people murdered and buried by the group. Three were IRA members, executed for their alleged ties to the security forces, while the six others were civilians.
The statement apologised for the "prolonged anguish" caused to victims' families and acknowledged the "incalculable" pain they have suffered.
John McClory, a friend of Brian's, who disappeared at the same time, was also named on the list, as was Jean McConville, a Protestant who converted when she married a Roman Catholic.
Her daughter and son-in-law, Helen and Seamus McKendry, launched the action group Families of the Disappeared four years ago after receiving death threats for their campaign work.
The group sees recent moves as a vindication of its work, although it was scathing of the trade-off granting amnesty to the killers.
For some however, the unabated suffering is set to continue, since a handful of "disappeared" were not acknowledged in the IRA statement.
Meanwhile, the families of those named on the IRA list are making preparations to give their loved ones belated Christian funerals. Some, such as the McKendrys, have already booked burial plots.
The nine victims named by the IRA were: