While mass graves are being filled after the catastrophic events of the weekend, Mark Durkan has confirmed that he has written to the two Governments to Call for more help to find ‘disappeared’. Unfortunate timing, insensitivity or opportunism ?

The British and Irish Governments were today urged to do more to help locate the burial sites of people abducted and murdered by the IRA during the Troubles.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan confirmed he had written to both governments urging them to reassure relatives the commission tasked with locating their loves ones’ remains would continue its work.

The Foyle Assembly member said: “Although many think that enormous efforts have been made to find the bodies of the disappeared, in fact this has not always happened.

“In one case the dig to find the body of one of the disappeared lasted just six hours.

“The families are also concerned that not enough has been done to find new technologies that would make it easier to locate their loved ones’ bodies.

“They also fear that the work of the international commission to find the bodies of the disappeared is winding up.

“And they are angry that the IRA has not provided accurate information on where the bodies are buried. They are convinced that with greater will on all sides, the bodies can be found and given a proper Christian burial.”

In October 2003, the IRA apologised for the grief suffered by the families of the disappeared in Northern Ireland.

However, despite receiving information from the Provisionals, the Commission for the Recovery of Victims’ Remains has managed to locate only some of the bodies of the disappeared.

In August 2003 the corpse of 37-year-old mother of ten, Jean McConville, was discovered after a series of extensive searches of Shelling Hill Beach in Co Louth.

She was abducted and murdered by the IRA after she went to the aid of a British soldier wounded outside her front door in 1974.

In 1999, investigators recovered the bodies of Eamon Molloy from north Belfast in a coffin in a Co Louth graveyard, and John McClory and Brian McKinney from west Belfast, whose remains were found after weeks of digging in a bog in Co Monaghan.

The body of 17-year-old Columba McVeigh from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, who was kidnapped in 1975, has not been recovered despite searches in Co Monaghan.

The commission has also carried out digs for the bodies of Danny McIlhone from Belfast at Ballynultagh in Co Wicklow, Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright, also from Belfast, in Coghallstown near Navan in Co Meath and Brendan Megraw, from Belfast, at Oristown near Kells in Co Meath.

In May 2002, searches in Co Monaghan for the body of missing 57-year-old Co Armagh man Charlie Armstrong proved unsuccessful.

Mr Durkan said today the governments had to reassure relatives that the commission was still operating and would meet them.

He added: “The families need to know from the two governments and from Sinn Féin that finding these bodies will be a priority in the coming year.

“Being able to give a relative a Christian burial is the most basic of rights. Yet for years the families have been denied this right.

“This year, we must all hope that their rights will be respected and the bodies will at last be found.”

  • ulsterman

    Typical SDLP nonsense.

  • CavanMan

    Ulsterman,shouldnt you be playing with your combat 18/BNP buddies on the shankill road,instead of adding such useless comments?

  • GavBelfast

    At worst I would say it is unfortunate – when people concoct connections that aren’t there.

    What possible even tenuous connection is there between the awful events in the Indian Ocean area and its aftermath, and the grotesque issue of Ireland’s Disappeared?

    If anything is insensitive or sickening, it’s warped whataboutery of this kind.

    At this rate, no one will be able to mention anything with someone or other trying to link it with something else.

    Heavens, this place ….

  • Visioner

    So we can’t excuse Sinn Fein from opportunism in recent years or the DUP. Thats Politics!

    And with relation to insensitivity of topic with the terrible events in Asia – no harm or offence, but it is a separate issue in my book. This is one issue that has yet to be addressed by the IRA – sufficiently. Maybe Sinn Fein should look into the issue of the disappeared more, instead of constantly trying to ignore it. They instead completely focus on the one issue of British ‘collusion’ – I wonder why they haven’t even touched the disappearance issue yet, hmm…….? Any idea’s?

    Fair play to the SDLP – I think. 😉 This is a valid issue/question to be raised.

  • Mark McGregor


    Can you explain your problem with Mark’s comments? Just timing? I’m sure family members think the timing issue is about the length of time for anyone to give a crap when it ain’t newsworthy and feel the same sympathy the world does for those lives destroyed in SE Asia. I thought it decent of him to use his end of year media time for this topic, fair play to him. I’m really surprised he is being criticised over this.

    Mark, why do you think I have a problem with his comments? I read the piece quoted at the same time as a radio program was discussing the problems people have with finding out if their loved one’s are alive or dead, and if they are dead finding where they are. Was his choice of subject coincidence, or was it triggered by some similar discussion to the one I heard ? A family friend remarked upon his timing and reckoned it was opportunism. I’m not sure and thought I would invite discussion on this site. A.U.

  • aquifer

    Anything that raises the profile of victims is a good thing. They suffer the double indignity of being unjustly murdered and then having their death used to puff the importance of some political daubing or other.

    In this sectarian snakepit any one of us is a victim waiting to happen. Those that straddle the ‘divide’ are among the most exposed.

  • mickhall

    Mark McGregor,

    It is nice to see you are still on form after our recent kerfuffle, but I fail to see any link between Mark Durkins statement and the tragedy in south east Asia. The Press Association and others reported this as just another news story. The only reason to link the two stories would be to gain political advantage and im sure you would never lower yourself to such a level on behalf of the party you support.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    How is it possible to make political capitol out of such a situation?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I really don’t see much reason for any complaint here. If there even is any association, is it negative?

  • BeanShide

    I. or anyone else could write to Bertie or Tony on the subject of the so called “disappeared”, but I would not feel the need to publicise the fact, whereas Mr. Durkan or someone acting on his behalf did! What exactly does he hope to achieve writing to the respective governments? They know as much as anyone else, the general areas and nothing more. Mr. Durkan should address his letter to the Provisional I.R.A. for only they can shine some light on the matter. It goes without saying that the relatives have suffered grieviously all down the years, for losing a loved one is heartbreaking in normal circumstances. Being left to wonder where your child is lying or to imagine how they met their end is truly a life sentance on the innocent. It follows that the P.I.R.A. try to more accuratly establish the location of their resting place, and that the two governments provide sufficient funds and expertise to locate the bodies. This also would include the more recently disappeared, enough said!

  • Davros

    What exactly does he hope to achieve writing to the respective governments? They know as much as anyone else, the general areas and nothing more.

    Who else should he write to in respect of the commission ?

    Mr. Durkan should address his letter to the Provisional I.R.A. for only they can shine some light on the matter.

    Different issue.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Since the IRA generally only responds to demands when it is in its own interest and there is public demand for it, I can see nothing wrong with Durkan publicising this.

    In fact, it seems to be the kind of pressure the relatives want placed on the IRA. Having met some of them, a few are nearing the end of their days and are pretty desperate to get the bodies of their loved ones back before they too die.