Renewed hope for Disappeared?

The grieving mother of Columba McVeigh prepares to highlight her case in a meeting with Ian Paisley. 17 year old Columba McVeigh, one of the IRA’s many Catholic victims, was kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried in 1975. However, Martin McGuinness believes the issue can be solved.

  • Let’s hope Ian Paisley can do something with this. The attitude of Martin McGuinness is sick and perverted beyond belief. The track record of Sinn Fein and/or the IRA is on a par with the worst Latin American dictatorships in this regard.

  • slug

    I hope so too.

    I have no idea what this old woman has gone through but I think we would all agree that she deserves closure.

  • lets hope we can actually get closure, for this one.

  • Pete Baker

    There is no renewed hope here, unfortunately.

    Paisley has seized on the last wish of a dying man to raise an episode that SF still regard as embarrassing.

    In comparison McGuinness is attempting to dampen down the reporting of Paisley’s comments.

    The reality is that, if the PIRA were able to assist in finding the bodies of those they murdered and buried, they would have done so already.

    The assistance they offered previously was conditional on no forensics being used in any subsequent charges – ie they’d identify the locations only if they didn’t have to face the consequences.

    There is no better incentive that the governments could provide. The fact that so few locations of the bodies have been found, and one of those locations was found accidentally, means that, for whatever reason [I’d suspect because no-one involved could be bothered to properly record them], the PIRA no longer have that information.

  • the usual spin & cop out ?

  • Pete Baker: Good points but it doesn’t wash. Take Ian Brady and the Moors murrers where they disappeared little English children, one of whom has yet to be found. Myra Hindley coughed up evidence many years after she was convicted which brought horrible closure of a sort. (one mother had to listen to her child being tortured to death for identification purposes)

    [Commenting policy is here – edited moderator}

    Unless they confess and make restitution, they have no rights bigger than those they so inhumanely abused.
    What were their capital crimes? Who found them guilty? Who pulled the tiggers? Who were in on it? Were any of them sexually abused? Were they subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment?

    Jean McConville Born 1934 – Murdered 1972 – buried 2003
    Seamus Wright from Andersonstown, who was disappeared in 1972.
    Kevin McKee from west Belfast, was disappeared in 1972.
    Columba McVeigh , 17, from Co Tyrone, was disappeared in 1975.
    Brendan Megaw, 22, from west Belfast, was disappeared in 1978.
    Danny McIlhone from west Belfast, was disappeared in 1981.
    John McIlroy, from Andersonstown, was disappeared in 1974.
    Gerard Evans, 24, from Crossmaglen, was disappeared in 1980.
    Charlie Armstrong, 56, was disappeared from Crossmaglen in 1980.
    Gareth O’Connor, 24, was disappeared from Armagh in May 2003.
    Seamus Ruddy, was disappeared in France.

    Lest we forget.w

  • Pete Baker


    I’m sorry to say that’s what it looks like to me.


    Try to address the points raised rather than going off on a rant. Slugger, as a rule, tries to encourage debate – that requires listening as well as speaking.

  • Seamus Ruddy, was disappeared in France on 9 May 1985.
    Robert Nairac, SAS, was disappeared in 1977.

  • McGrath

    With humble respect…

    Why did the PIRA choose to “disappear” these people? As opposed to dumping them on “waste ground” as was the usual report of the 70/80’s.

    I suppose I understand the “Argentina mentality” of Argentina of the time, but here in NI an equal if not greater number of victims ended up “shot on the side of the road”, why the difference?

    I guess I am a just Slugger reader, who comes here to understand, rather than to question.

    Thanks, it is a good site, despite the usual suspects.

  • Ingram


    Pete Baker makes a number of good points.

    At the time these people were dissapeared or more accurate to say murdered the PIRA did not want the world to know that they had a policy to secretly kill .

    Many of these incidents were dealt with by Volunteers some of whom have now died, memories fail over time and generally the chances of recovering all the bodies must be slim.

    It would be a massive boos for Sinn Fein/ HMG should that happen but I doubt whether it will happen and I fear the DUP are just playing politics with the situation.

    The families should be our priority here.


  • Dear McGrath

    With respect to the most notorious of these, Jean McKinney, an impoverished widowed mother of ten ( and Protestant convert to Catholicism): This happened when Gerry Adams was reputedly the OC Belfast Brigade (or maybe he was the Adjutant to Seamus Twomey but high up the food chain at any rate).
    McKinney had been passing low level information to the Brits and had resumed such activities. (the value of her information was most likely zero at most and she was living hand to mouth with ten young mouths to feed on her own).
    They kidnappeed her and did whatever. Instead of doing as you suggest, they spreasd rumours she ran off with a soldier. But the rats in the street knew she’d been nutted. And most rats thereafter decided not to tout or not to cross the Provos. Some, like Denis and Scap took a different career path. Diseappearing Jean McKinney was a pivotal move in securing community control by the robust community activists of the IRA.
    Nairac’s case is well known and was most probably fed into a meat grinding machine (so the awful rumour goes); disappeared men give no forensics. Ruddy had left the INLA but some of the gentlemen in that outfit figured he could stil help them by revealing hidden arms stashes. The INLA claim they have moved heaven and earth to find his body and are offended when people suggest they should just tell where his remains lie. They are busy people, what with all the INLA graves they have to tend to.

    Several of the others had republican relatives etc and it was thought better to disappear them. One of those found was a cousin of Alex Maskey. However I can’t say if that stiff was returned as a favour to Mr Maskey or whether it was just a lucky dip by the JCB. Either way, we can assume the then Belfast Republican leaderhsip did not want to offend the sensibilities of people like Mr Maskey and so they just disappeared his relative.
    Charlie Armstrong was just, by all accounts, a harmless old devil. Perhaps some young Provos needed his car and, scared to alienate support in God’s own country, just disappeared the old fella on the out of sight out of mind principle.

    Gareth O’Connor was out on bail on suspicion of being a RIRA member. The Provos post GFA felt, with some justification and green lights from the two governments, they had a mandate to beat the crap out of dissident republicans, founding members of the civil rights movement in Derry included. On the old Catholic way of thinking, they would have regarded disappearing O’Connor as a venial sin.

    I do not remember off hand why the others were disappeared but I imagine the cases were broadly similar (if we leave the Scap/Denis element out of it). However, given his robust views on child molesters, I would refer Mr Ingram (and your good self) to the earlier post I made mentioning the Moor murderers. Without going off on too much of a tangent there, Myra Hindley spat up one of the bodies long after she was convicted. So the Provos do probably know where the bodies are buried. And if they don’t they are condemned even more as most of us would remember where we a dog, a sparrow or nay other of God’s creatures.

    I hope this helps

  • andy

    I’m probably going too much into detail here but…..
    Wasn’t Gareth O’Connor pretty much named in court as an informer?

    and are you saying the provos killed that Charles Armstrong bloke so they could steal his car more easily?
    and they thought that would alienate support less than just nabbing it as per usual?

  • Andy

    Please note I had no involvement in any of this. O’Connor was also said to have borrowed money from a PIRA member. PIRA, like RIRA, is a rather secretive organization. Plenty of people have been accused of touting but I doubt that was the reason here. Kinda strange O’Connor had to spend two years in Newry canal. Again, I would say he was caught up in the murky side of things and it was probably more a homer than an officially sanctioned job. Just like Gerry McCabe. Hard to say due to the secrecy, the level of infiltration and the all pervading duplicity.

    As regards Armstrong: The South Armagh IRA refused to give any information. Plus the South Armagh Provos would be blooding new recruits on a regular bases and it is possible, Goodfellas like, something went wrong so they ditched the body. As the car was found in Dundalk, Orangies and “securocrats can be ruled out. Speaking of which, a Mr P O’Neill denied that a group styling itself Oglaigh na hEireann was responsible.

    From the Sunday Independent of August 31, 2003:
    BRENDAN Megraw was killed as part of an IRA cover-up. In August 1977, IRA men in Andersonstown shot dead the manager of the local IRA drinking club, possibly in a row over proceeds. They said he had been shot dead by the British Army during a gun battle. But, Megraw, 22, who had no paramilitary connections, made the fatal mistake of telling police about seeing a man armed with a hunting rifle shoot the club manager, which proved the IRA had lied. They abducted Megraw, shot him dead and secretly buried his body.

    Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright were taken away for questioning by the IRA from their homes in Armagh city on October 2, 1972. Wright, 25, was married and McKee single. Wright had been arrested in February and while being held at an Army barracks in Belfast apparently agreed to turn informant. Wright returned to Armagh and went to the IRA to tell them what had happened. A couple of nights later a car called to his home and he left willingly with the men inside. McKee – about whom almost nothing is known – disappeared at the same time. …

    Columba McVeigh was 17 when he was abducted by the IRA, killed and disappeared in 1975……

    Charles Armstrong, a 57-year-old father of five who lived with his wife and family outside Crossmaglen, disappeared on Sunday, August 16 in 1981. He left to collect an elderly neighbour to bring her to Mass and was never seen again. His car was later found in Dundalk with no sign of a struggle. Local Republican sources said he had been killed by the IRA but gave no reason.

    ***Sindo quoted as it is (free) subscription only.

  • Ingram


    A rather sad and desperate post that even got the names wrong. None of the dissapeared were Touts and the PIRA M/O in dealing with touts is not consistent with their normal close a road.

    The issue of Nairac is no longer an issue and has not for many years. The authorities know exactly the circumstances to that death.He is not a dissapeared in the sense you are talking about.His body is NOT RECOVERABLE.

    The bottom line is the PIRA killed these people and lied and lied and lied and lied and lied. They did not want the world to know that they killed mothers and kids in secret.

    Very Sad. But when marty ” Feldman” McGuinness says he thinks it is possible to recover more of the bodies you should take no notice.

    Martin Ingram.


    Nuala O’Loan claims Jean McConville was not a tout. So why was she killed?

    Mr Ingram:
    So where is Mr Nairac?

    PS: The Martin McGuinness is a tout thing never gained traction.

  • Stephen Copeland


    I have heard that Nairac became cat or dog food via a certain factory in a certain midlands town owned by a certain ex-Taoiseach.

    Am I right, Martin Ingram?