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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Shift in search for IRA victim
Digging for the Disappeared
The searches have, so far, been in vain
Police in the Irish Republic searching for one of the IRA murder victims secretly buried in the 1970s, have changed the location of their dig.

The search for Jean McConville has moved to the car park at Templetown beach, County Louth, following a weekend visit by members of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.

Large areas of the beach itself have already been investigated without success.

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

In total, five sites, believed to hold the bodies of six of the Disappeared, are being investigated in the Republic of Ireland.

The digs resumed on 2 May after the IRA supplied more information to the independent commission.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield: "Awful if families were left grieving"

The searches are all expected to end later this week.

At the weekend, the Northern Ireland commissioner for the location of the Disappeared, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, said the digs could not continue indefinitely.

He said: "What we are very anxious to do is bring these episodes to some feeling of closure.

"The best way to achieve that would be to recover the bodies to have a decent Christian burial.

"If that can't be done, it would be nice to find some other means of closure.

"It would be awful if these families were left grieving and hoping forever."

Gardai despondent

Excavations for the bodies began in May 1999, but were stopped in July because of a lack of precise information from the IRA.

The Irish police are also looking for the remains of Columba McVeigh at Bragan in County Monaghan; Danny McIlhone at Ballynultagh in County Wicklow; Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright in Coghallstown near Navan in County Meath; and Brendan Megraw at Oristown near Kells in County Meath.
Superintendent John Farrelly
John Farrelly: Families are not seeing any progress

Last year, Gardai recovered the bodies of Eamon Molloy, left in a coffin in a graveyard in County Louth, and John McClory and Brian McKinney, whose remains were found after weeks of digging in County Monaghan.

On Friday, the tenth day of searches due to last three weeks, Garda Superintendent John Farrelly said that while they have not given up hope, they are increasingly disappointed.

"Obviously at this point the heads are beginning to go down, especially with the families at some of the sites.

"They are seeing the digs going on but no progress is being made and, of course, our people are there and being human they are despondent," he said.

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See also:

13 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Search continues for IRA victims
02 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Search for Disappeared restarts
01 May 00 | Northern Ireland
New victims search welcomed
07 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Hopes raised over 'Disappeared' remains
30 May 99 | Europe
Long wait over IRA victims
30 May 99 | Europe
Search resumes for IRA victims
28 May 99 | UK
Tragedies of the Troubles
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