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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Family say body is mother's
Police accompany a coffin being removed from the beach
The family of a west Belfast woman murdered by the IRA more than 30 years ago believe the body found on a beach in the Republic of Ireland is their mother's.

Jean McConville, 37, was abducted by the IRA from her 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.

A woman's remains were found at Shilling Hill beach, near Carlingford, in County Louth by a man and his children on Tuesday.

Police have confirmed that she died from a bullet wound to the head.

Mrs McConville's family may have to wait eight weeks before DNA tests firmly establish the woman's identity.

However, after seeing a shoe and blouse, which were found near the body, two of Mrs McConville's children said they believed the body was their mother's.

It is our hope that the recovery of human remains close to the site which was previously examined, brings closure to the McConville family's long search for their mother's remains
Mitchel McLaughlin
Sinn Fein

Her son, Michael, told journalists at Louth County Hospital where a post mortem examination 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".

"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.

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

"All I ever wanted to do was to find out the truth. I promised my sister before she died in 1992.... 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 scene where the body was found is about a quarter of a mile from Templetown beach, where previous searches for Mrs McConville's body have taken place.

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the party hoped the family's misery was about to end.

He said: "It is our hope that the recovery of human remains close to the site which was previously examined, brings closure to the McConville family's long search for their mother's remains.

"At this time we are mindful that the family concerned continue to suffer great hurt and everybody's thoughts will be with them at this difficult time."

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.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Tara Mills reports
"There was a mixture of relief and sadness at news that the victim was a small woman who had been shot in the head"



SEE ALSO:
IRA urged to locate bodies
28 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Victim 'shot in head'
28 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Remains 'belonged to woman'
27 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Son's appeal to find mother's body
08 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland


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