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Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK


IRA: No more clues on 'disappeared'

Flowers at the scene of one of the digs

The IRA has said it has given all the information it can to help find the bodies of eight people it abducted and killed up to 30 years ago.

The Search for Peace
In a statement issued to the BBC, the IRA said it had passed on all information in good faith and after thorough investigation.

But it said it had been impossible to pinpoint exact locations where its victims were buried.

Police in the Irish Republic suspended the digs at Templetown, County Louth, and near Blessington, County Wicklow, shortly before 2000 BST on Tuesday.

Both searches for the remains of the victims, who were abducted and murdered in the 1970s and 1980s, were due to resume in the morning, said police.

Ulster Unionists have condemned the exercise as a publicity stunt.

Anguished relatives

Denis Murray reports: "The IRA said it has given all the information it had"
The IRA's statement came after relatives of one of the murdered, Jean McConville, said they wanted the IRA to give more precise details of her body's location.

Mrs McConville, a mother of 10 from Belfast, was said to have been murdered by the Provisionals after comforting a wounded soldier in 1972.

[ image: Seamus McKendry and his wife Helen cannot bear to watch]
Seamus McKendry and his wife Helen cannot bear to watch
The search for her body is continuing at Templetown Beach, County Louth.

Her daughter, Helen McKendry said: "I don't think the IRA are acting sincerely in this.

"I really don't think they care about any of the families. Why are they changing their story now ?

"The IRA said they would hand back the bodies once the 'war' was over. Are they now saying the war is not over? We still got to hope at the end of the day that we get something here."

Tom Coulter in Belfast: The Irish police have dug up an entire car park
But the IRA said the passage of time, changes of leadership and members' deaths made the search difficult.

Its statement added that it remained hopeful the bodies would be found quickly.

The IRA has supplied details through intermediaries giving locations for the bodies of nine victims - all but one of whom were Roman Catholics who went missing from Northern Ireland between 1972 and 1981.

'Righting a wrong'

Gerry Adams: "Terrible things happen in war"
Digging began last week, and on Friday Irish police discovered the body of Eamon Molloy, in a graveyard in County Louth.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams also stressed the IRA had given all the information it had in good faith.

[ image: Gerry Adams:
Gerry Adams: "Sincere attempt to find bodies"
"This is a very, very genuine and honest attempt to right a wrong" by the IRA, he said.

But Ulster Unionists' security spokesman Ken Maginnis said the IRA was simply trying to win over public opinion and the bodies would never be found.

Mr Maginnis said: "The IRA are hoping that at the end of the day will they will be able to say, 'Oh, but of course we made an effort, the authorities weren't able, because of the changing topography, and so on, of the land, to find them but we did our best'."

(Click here to see a map of the sites)

The prolonged search is dragging out the agony of the victims' families, who had hoped to be quickly able to put their loved ones to rest.

The sites being searched are Templetown Beach at Carlingford, County Louth, Culloville, County Monaghan and Ballynulty, County Wicklow.

Work began on Monday at another site at Bragan, County Monaghan where the body of 17-year-old Columba McVeigh is thought to be buried.

Excavations have not yet begun at the two sites in County Meath, one of which is near Navan and the other near Kells.

The land at Culloville, Co Monaghan, where John McClory and Brian McKinney are supposed to be buried, is an area of peat bog and the bodies could be well preserved by the peat.

The site at Oristown near Kells is understood to be the burial place of Brendan Megraw.

Another at Cogalstown near Navan is said to contain the bodies of Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright.

[ image:  ]

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