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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
IRA denies abducting man
Gareth O'Connor
Gareth O'Connor has been missing since Sunday

The IRA has said it knows nothing about the whereabouts of a missing Armagh man whose family fear the group has abducted him.

Gareth O'Connor has not been seen since he left his home in the city on Sunday morning.

The Catholic Primate, Archbishop Sean Brady, earlier appealed for information about the missing man.

He took the unusual step late on Monday night.

Mr O'Connor had been due to report to Dundalk police station in the Irish Republic as part of his bail conditions.

His father said he believed his son was being held by the IRA.

"I am 100% certain that it is the Provisional IRA because he doesn't agree with them," said Mark O'Connor.

"Does that mean they are going to abduct the whole of Northern Ireland because they don't agree with them?"

'Extraordinary step'

It is understood that the police had already warned the family that the IRA may be targeting him because of alleged links with dissident republicans.

A police spokesman said they had received a report that a man had gone missing but when officers tried to investigate, family members told them their assistance was no longer required.

The circumstances surrounding this matter are not clear but I want to reiterate the calls made by Archbishop Brady and Mr O'Connor's family for his safe return
Pat McNamee
Sinn Fein

However, in a statement released on Tuesday the IRA said: "The IRA has no knowledge whatsoever concerning the disapperance or whereabouts of Gareth O'Connor."

It is understood that the archbishop took the extraordinary step of personally appealing for information about the missing man after his family appealed to local clergy.

Sinn Fein assembly member for Armagh Pat McNamee said he understood the O'Connor family's concern.

However, he said he did not believe Mr O'Connor had been abducted by the IRA.

"The circumstances surrounding this matter are not clear but I want to reiterate the calls made by Archbishop Brady and Mr O'Connor's family for his safe return," said Mr McNamee.





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