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Rosie Billingham reports from Templetown beach
"The torment surrounding the Disappeared is not over yet"
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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 21:56 GMT 22:56 UK
Family protests at search site
Beach protest
The McConville family vows to continue digging
The family of an IRA murder victim who disappeared 28 years ago have vowed to continue digging for their mother's body, despite an official end to the search.

Mother-of-ten 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.

She is one of the Disappeared who were murdered by the IRA and secretly buried during the 1970s.

The McConville family have said they will mount a protest at the County Louth beach at Templetown where their mother is believed to be buried.

Family members have asked the relatives of five other victims whose bodies have yet to recovered to mount pickets at the other sites.

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

But these digs were called off after a few months after only three bodies were found, because the information was not precise enough.

The latest attempt to locate the remains began on 2 May. Irish Police carried out extensive digs at five sites in the Republic of Ireland in an attempt to trace the remains of six people.

Jean McConville was abducted by the IRA in 1972
Jean McConville was abducted by the IRA in 1972
However, these digs ended on Saturday after three weeks, having proved fruitless.

Mrs McConville's body is believed to have been buried in a secret grave at Templetown beach, but geological experts have said that the topography of the beach could have shifted over time.

And the site of the dig was moved from the sands to the carpark area during the three weeks at the request of the McConville family.

Jean McConville's eldest son, Robert, said they would restart the dig themselves as soon as they have gained permission from the local council.

He said they had received offers of help and plan to bring mechanical diggers to the beach on Monday, but that they still need people skilled to drive them.

Speaking to Radio Ulster on Monday morning, Mr McConville said: "We need professional people who can use diggers and we will do the work that the Gardai were doing: raking and putting the stuff back the way it was before it was dug out.

"We have to get a stamp of approval from Louth District Council and we have permission from the landowners, so it is only a matter of time before the McConville family can move in with mechanical diggers."

He added: "If we can maintain the search for our mother we have the possibility of maintaining the rest of the digs open. Even if it's only part-time, maybe three days a week.

"It's giving us something to cling to after so many years of despair."

On Saturday, the searches also ended 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, as well as John McClory and Brian McKinney, whose remains were found after weeks of digging in County Monaghan.

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See also:

20 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Searches over for Disappeared
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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