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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK


IRA locates victims' bodies

A priest helped guide police to where the coffin had been left

Irish police have recovered the remains of the first of Northern Ireland's "disappeared" and been given the location of eight further bodies.

The Search for Peace
The first victim - abducted and murdered by the IRA more than 20 years ago - was found at a graveyard in County Louth.

The area, close to the border with Northern Ireland, was sealed off by the Garda after they were told a coffin had been dumped there.

The IRA's decision to reveal the locations follows legislation which came into force this week preventing forensic evidence from the remains being used in subsequent court cases.

The BBC's David Eades: "The relief for the families is tempered with disgust"
It looks likely to finish two decades of appeals by the nine victims' families to end the secrecy over the whereabouts of the graves.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam said: "I welcome the fact that after all the years of suffering and pain one of the families has had the body of its relative back. Our thoughts are with them."

The police were led to the first body by a Catholic priest and another person who approached them in Dundalk, about four miles from the Old Faughart Cemetery where the coffin was found.

It is believed that it had been exhumed from another location and transferred to the graveyard, possibly during the night.

'The pain is raw'

The body is thought to be that of Eamon Molloy, from the Bone district of north Belfast, who disappeared in 1975. He had been accused of being an informer.

His brother, Anthony, was shot dead by loyalists in June 1975.

The BBC's David Eades: "A carefully co-ordinated development"
Mr Molloy's family priest, Father Patrick McCaffrey, said they were relieved his body had been recovered, but the anguish would continue.

He said: "The pain is very raw. They have had all this anxiety and distress for all these years and even though they've got the news they were waiting for, the agony will go on.

"In many cases it may never end. The circumstances of these deaths are particularly grotesque with families being deprived of the right to bury their loved ones."

[ image:  ]
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams says the recovery of the remains is a "welcome development".

He said: "This issue is a human rights issue, a justice issue. Sinn Fein have supported the families' demands for these bodies to be returned and I welcome this morning's development.

Jerry Adams: "I welcome today's development"
"I know that these are very trying and difficult times for the families involved and I hope that the other bodies are recovered quickly and returned to their families."

Wait for families

Seamus McKendry said he had been assured that the bodies of eight more victims will be located in the next 24 hours.

[ image: The body is thought to be that of Eamon Molloy]
The body is thought to be that of Eamon Molloy
His mother-in-law vanished from the Divis Flats in Belfast in March 1972. Jean McConville, 37, was a widowed mother of 10.

Her daughter Helen believes that her mother was seized by the Provisionals because she helped a soldier who was shot outside her door.

Mr McKendry said: "This family is in turmoil. It's something we have campaigned for, and now that it has happened, we don't know how to deal with it.

"It seems to be a gruesome process of recovery. Gruesome is an understatement, but hopefully we will not have to wait much longer."

Families of the victims have had a 20-year wait for information on the location of the graves.

The last search for the bodies was at Christmas, when specialist equipment was brought in to search a site in west Belfast, but nothing was found.

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