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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Beach remains 'found by accident'
Police accompany a coffin being removed from the beach
A body suspected to be that of a Belfast woman murdered more than 30 years ago was found accidentally rather than because of IRA information, Irish Government sources have insisted.

The IRA said in a statement on Sunday that it had passed on specific information about the whereabouts of the remains of Jean McConville.

The remains were discovered at Shelling Hill beach, near Carlingford, in County Louth by a man and his children last Tuesday.

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 was murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.

DNA tests are being carried out to firmly establish the identity of the body, but the McConville family say they are convinced that it is their mother.

Irish Government sources said on Monday that the suspected remains of Mrs McConville were discovered accidentally rather than because of any new information from the IRA.

John Wilson of the Irish Republic's Victims' Commission also said his organisation had not been passed any new information by the IRA.

Jean McConville was a mother of 10
Jean McConville was a mother of 10
The IRA said it had given all the information it has about the so-called Disappeared - those kidnapped and murdered during the Troubles.

The IRA said it was hopeful the discovery of the woman's body would "bring closure to the trauma and suffering endured by the McConville family".

The IRA statement continued: "Over a month ago we passed on specific information in relation to sites where the bodies of Jean McConville and Columba McVeigh were buried.

"This followed a complete review of all the information available to us.

"In the course of this review we revisited each case in detail."

The statement did not specify to whom the information had been passed.

Columba McVeigh, a 17-year-old from Donaghmore in County Tyrone, was kidnapped and killed in 1975 after he allegedly admitted to spying on the IRA.

The IRA insisted it had done "all within our power to redress injustices for which we accept full responsibility".

The group said it had tried "to alleviate the suffering of the families, particularly those families who have been unable to bury or properly mourn their relatives".

DNA wait

Police have confirmed that the woman found 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.

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, Irish police 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 Mr 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.

BBC NI's Maryann Maguire reports:
"The statement says the IRA is responsible only for the murder of people it acknowledged in March 1999"

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28 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
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08 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland

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