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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Victim 'shot in head'
Police accompany a coffin being removed from the beach

Irish police have confirmed that the woman whose body was found on a beach in the Republic of Ireland died from a bullet wound to the head.

The family of IRA victim Jean McConville may have to wait eight weeks before DNA tests firmly establish that the body is that of their mother.

But Mrs McConville's son, Michael and daughter, Helen, said they believed that the body found on Wednesday at Shelling Hill beach in County Louth was their mother's.

Mrs McConville, 37, was abducted by the IRA from her west Belfast home in 1972, after she went to the aid of a fatally wounded British soldier outside her front door.

The mother of ten is one of the so-called Disappeared who were murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.

Michael McConville told journalists at Louth County Hospital where a post mortem took place on Thursday, that he recognised items of clothing which he was shown and which she was wearing on the day she disappeared.

"Judging from the items, I do think it is my mother," he said.

One item of clothing, a jumper, was linked in his memory to his mother and he added that he felt a "big sense of relief".

Plea for Privacy

"No-one understands how much pressure we have been going through these last 30 years about what has happened," he said.

"I hope we are left alone now, we need to bury our mother in peace."

Mrs McConville's daughter, Helen, said: "I really do think it is my mother's remains."

"All I ever wanted to do was to find out the truth. I promised my sister before she died in 1992 the last thing I promised to find out what happened to my mother and to put an end to it, she would be the last one going to her grave not knowing."

The gardai said the remains had been found by a man out walking with his children.

Mrs McConville's family were asked to look at a shoe and blouse, which were found near the body, to help in the identification.

Jean McConville was a mother of 10
Jean McConville was a mother of 10

Forensic searches are continuing at the place where the body was found. It is about a quarter of a mile from Templetown Beach, where previous searches for Mrs McConville's body have taken place.

Relatives of Mrs McConville went to the scene of the discovery on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Carlingford parish priest Father McParland led prayers at the scene with family members.

"All these years waiting and not knowing anything, but we have always had the feeling the body was there," she said.

In 1999, the IRA offered to help locate the bodies of the nine so-called Disappeared but Mrs McConville's remains were not found, despite extensive excavations.

Two searches of Templetown beach, one lasting 50 days, were carried out during the summer of 1999 and May last year.

In 1999, gardai recovered the bodies of Eamon Molloy, left in a coffin in a graveyard in County Louth as well as the remains of John McClory and Brian McKinney, whose remains were found after weeks of digging in a bog in County Monaghan.

However, the IRA was unable to give precise enough information to locate the other bodies.

Remains 'belonged to woman'
27 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Son's appeal to find mother's body
08 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland
IRA locates victims' bodies
28 May 99  |  UK News

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