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Wednesday, June 30, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK


Body finds encourage searchers

Police remove the two bodies

Gardai searching for IRA victims - known as the "Disappeared" - have extended their search for Jean McConville, who was killed in 1972 for comforting a wounded British soldier.

The search has been widened at the Templeton beach site in County Louth following the discovery on Tuesday of two bodies.

This discovery followed fresh information delivered to the Victims' Commission at the weekend.

The Search for Peace
The remains of two men, believed to be those of Brian McKinney and John McClory, abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1978, were taken to Dublin on Tuesday night.

Garda Superintendent John Farrelly said Tuesday's find gave new impetus to the searches continuing at the County Louth site and at other locations in Monaghan and Meath, after the IRA passed information to the Disappeared Commission a month ago.

He said: "I'd say this is a very encouraging sign - the fact that information was given on 29 May that two bodies were buried here. It's now a calendar month on, but we are delighted for the families' sake. I think there's relief there.

"If we get information we will return to any site and carry out searches to finality."

Jean McConville, 37, a widowed mother of 10, was abducted from her home in the republican Divis area of west Belfast in 1972. The IRA claimed she had been buried at the isolated Templeton beach on the Cooley peninsula, County Louth.

The BBC's John Thorne: "It seems a terrible mystery has been solved"
The families of both victims discovered on Tuesday spent time in prayer at the excavation site at the Colgagh Bog, a short distance from Northern Ireland.

Their mothers, Margaret McKinney and Mary McClory followed hearses containing the remains from the bog.

A sister of John McClory said it was the end of a long and painful ordeal for her mother.

[ image: Brian McKinney: Murdered in 1978]
Brian McKinney: Murdered in 1978
Colette Taylor said: "Her life has been at a halt. Now she can start to live again."

Margaret McKinney's husband William said: "People have been praying really hard lately, and maybe, just maybe this is a result of their prayers.

"Our hopes faded from time to time, but we never lost them completely. The neighbours have been a great source of strength.

"Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end for the family. I just hope now that the rest of the bodies can be recovered."

The BBC's John Thorne: "Irish police have been draining bogland here for some weeks"
Brian McKinney and John McClory, both disappeared from Belfast in 1978, aged 23 and 17 respectively.

They are two of eight victims whom the IRA has admitted killing and burying in unmarked graves.

It had said the two were killed after stealing weapons from one of its arms dumps for use in robberies.

Intermediaries pointed Irish police to the locations of the eight bodies, in six different sites, at the end of May - following legislation granting immunity from prosecution over the cases and setting up the Disappeared Commission.

Hopes rose for the speedy recovery of the bodies after a ninth set of remains - believed to be those of Eamon Molloy, who disappeared in 1975 - were recovered from a graveyard near Dundalk, County Louth, within days.

[ image: John McClory: Killed for allegedly stealing IRA arms]
John McClory: Killed for allegedly stealing IRA arms
They were inside a coffin which had been left above ground for the authorities to retrieve.

But until Tuesday, excavation work at six further sites had failed to yield any trace of the victims.

The IRA was criticised for failing to give enough information on the location of the bodies. Excavations were suspended at two of the six sites a week ago.

Gardai said it will take some time to identify the remains.

    The other missing people that detectives are searching for are:

  • Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright, IRA men from west Belfast, branded "turncoats" and murdered in 1972. They are said to have been buried at a site near Navan, County Meath, an area now heavily wooded.
  • Columba McVeigh, 17, from Donaghmore, County Tyrone, who disappeared in 1975. Said to have been buried at a site near Emyvale, County Monaghan. The excavation team had widened the area of their search there.
  • Danny McIlhone, who was murdered in 1981 after being accused of pilfering IRA weapons to carry out armed robberies. Digging at a site near Blessington, County Wicklow, for his remains was suspended 11 days ago.
  • Brendan Megraw, who was murdered and buried in secret 21 years ago. Excavation work at a bogland site, near Kells, County Meath, alleged to be his grave, was also suspended 11 days ago.

The latest remains were found as some of the relatives met representatives of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), to whom the IRA intermediaries gave the locations of the bodies.

[ image:  ]

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