After more than 30 days of excavations, the skeletons of two people have been removed from a site in Colgagh in County Monaghan.

Digging has been in progress at the site for the past four weeks for the bodies of Brian McKinney, 23, and John McClory, 17, from Belfast, who disappeared in 1978.

The discovery has been the first breakthrough in the search for nine people abducted and killed by the I-R-A in the course of the Northern Ireland troubles, and comes as peace talks continue in Northern Ireland.

After four weeks of waiting this was the moment the families of John McClory and Brian McKinney had been waiting for.

While pathologists will have to examine the bodies before they can establish identities of the victims, it’s believed the bodies are that of the two men, killed by the I-R-A 21 years ago.

Police officers made the first find at lunchtime on Tuesday, unearthing a human leg bone roughly 70 yards from the spot where work started a month ago in the isolated town near the N.Ireland border with South Armagh.

The I-R- A only admitted to the killing of the pair three months ago when it claimed to have pinpointed the burial sites of nine people killed in secrecy over the years.

It claimed the two men, who disappeared from West Belfast in 1978, had stolen I-R-A weapons from an arms dump to carry out armed robberies.

For the victims’ families, there was relief that after two decades of not knowing what had happened to their loved ones, the wait appeared to be almost over.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We can bury him, we are just waiting, we don’t have any confirmation as to who the remains are. So we have wait and see. We are sort of relieved, because we gave up the hope and my mum, she was coming down to say good bye at the site. Because we didn’t think anything else is going to happen we think this is the end. We are relieved and have to see if they are John’s remains.”
SUPER CAPTION: Collette Taylor, McClory’s sister

The I-R-A’s political wing which is currently involved in intensive talks on arms decommissioning of paramilitaries, has welcomed the news that the remains had been found.

The party has been criticised after a tip off leading to the search for 9 victims proved more difficult than expected, with claims the I-R-A’s information had been too vague.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“I hope that the reports are accurate. I hope it is the end of a very long process of torment for the families involved and I hope that it not only shows that everyone — the Guards, the Commission, the different people involved, the IRA — all acted in good faith on trying to return those remains and that will be the outcome of the continuation of the other searches.”
SUPER CAPTION: Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein President

Both the British and Irish governments introduced legislation specifically aimed at helping find the missing people, known as Northern Ireland’s “Disappeared”.

It grants immunity from prosecution to those involved whose information helps trace the remains and prohibits the use of forensic evidence uncovered in the process in criminal proceedings.

You can license this story through AP Archive:
Find out more about AP Archive:

Rates : 0