Monsignor Denis Faul: Loved ones "deserve a Christian burial"
A senior Catholic clergyman has called on the IRA to tell the families of people it abducted and murdered in the 1970s where their loved ones are buried.
Monsignor Denis Faul was speaking after the body of a woman, thought to be a mother of ten from west Belfast, was found by accident on a beach in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland.
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.
She is one of nine people, the so-called Disappeared, who were murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.
Previous organised searches for Mrs McConville in the area had failed to locate any remains.
Mrs McConville's family may have to wait eight weeks before DNA tests firmly establish the woman's identity, but they believe it is their mother.
Three bodies of the so-called Disappeared were found in 1999 following information from the IRA.
If the latest discovery turns out to be Mrs McConville, it means five other bodies have still to be located.
Monsignor Denis Faul said it was "absolutely necessary for the whole of Northern Ireland that these bodies be given back" and given the dignity of a Christian burial.
He added: "The IRA have three alternatives.
Jean McConville was a mother of 10
"They can go to the place, dig up the bodies themselves and hand them back to the relatives.
"Secondly, they can bring some person they trust, like a clergyman or a solicitor or public representative, and say: 'There is where we buried them'.
"Or thirdly, if they feel that's impossible, at least they can tell the true story. The relatives should be told exactly why their loved one was abducted, how he was tortured and how he was executed and where it all happened.
"That is the minimum necessary for healing. It should begin with the Disappeared."
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.
The other victims are:
Seamus Wright from Belfast: A member of the IRA, he was accused of being a British Army agent and a member of the Military Reaction Force (MRF). He was interrogated and murdered by the IRA in 1972.
Kevin McKee from Belfast: An IRA member, he was alleged to have been an Army agent and member of the MRF. He was interrogated and murdered by the IRA in 1972.
Columba McVeigh, 17, from Donaghmore in County Tyrone: Abducted and murdered in 1975 by the IRA after allegedly confessing to being an army agent with instructions to infiltrate the IRA.
Brendan McGraw, 24, from Belfast: Allegedly confessed to being a British provocateur and MRF member in 1978.
Danny McIlhone, from Belfast: Said by the IRA to have admitted to stealing weapons in 1981