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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Search for IRA victims to end
Digging for the Disappeared
Agonising wait for families as time runs out
Irish police are to call off their latest search for the bodies of victims of IRA murders after three weeks of fruitless digging.

Gardai have been carrying out extensive digs at five sites in the Republic of Ireland, in a search for the remains of six victims.

This latest attempt to locate the remains began on 2 May when the Victims Commission said they would last three weeks.

However, in a statement commissioners confirmed the digs will end on Saturday evening.

In the statement, former Irish deputy prime minister John Wilson and the one-time head of the Northern Ireland civil service, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, said the "potential of available information" had been thoroughly explored.

"The outcome is, of course, a deep disappointment to the Commission and represents a further setback for the grieving relatives.

"We are aware of the strong view of some relatives that the search for their loved ones should continue whether under the aegis of the Commission or otherwise."

Jean McConville was abducted by the IRA in 1972
Jean McConville was abducted by the IRA in 1972
Members of the family of IRA victim Jean McConville have said they will continue digging for their mother at Templetown beach in County Louth.

Mother of ten Jean McConville was one of nine people secretly murdered by the IRA - known as the Disappeared.

She was abducted from her west Belfast home in 1972, after she went to try to help a fatally wounded British soldier outside her front door.

Searches for nine victims' remains were started last summer, after the IRA passed information to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.

But these were called off after a few months, because the information was not precise enough.

'Three generations will search'

But seven of Jean McConville's children have said they intend to stay on the Templetown Beach in County Louth to carry on the search for their mother's remains.

At a news conference on Friday, they said if necessary, three generations of Jean McConville's family, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would stay on the beach until they found something.

Her eldest son, Robert McConville, said that the family had obtained permission from land-owners whose property borders the beach to extend the search onto their land.

The family made an appeal to anyone who owns a digger to bring it to the beach, to help them in their search.

Appeal to IRA

Another of her sons, Jim McConville, made a direct appeal to the IRA to meet one of the family face-to-face and go to the beach with them to pin-point the exact spot where she was buried.

"It is only the actual grave-diggers who know where she is and we are appealing to them to come and lift one of us off the street and take us to where our mother is.

"So if she is anywhere apart from Templetown Beach, we still want that to happen. We know it is 27 years ago, but you are not going to forget where you put a woman.

"We want them to come and show us, with no intermediaries, no priests - actually show the McConville family," he said.

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.

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.

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See also:

15 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Shift in search for IRA victim
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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