Remains of two people discovered in search for 'Disappeared'

The painstaking process of searching through bogland in Meath
The painstaking process of searching through bogland in Meath

The remains of two people have been unearthed in the search for the 'Disappeared' in a Meath bogland area, it has been confirmed.

The body of Joe Lynskey, from west Belfast, who was abducted and murdered by the IRA, was discovered earlier today. 

Lynskey, a former Cistercian monk from Beechmount, was one of 17 people abducted, killed and clandestinely dumped or buried by republicans.

It has emerged this evening that more than one body has been unearthed at the site in Coghalstown, County Meath.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy arrived to carry out examinations at the scene, and a post-mortem examination will be carried out on the remains after they are removed.

Two other bodies of the 'Disappeared' are thought to have been dumped in the same area - Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee.

The discovery, the 11th by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), was made near the centre of the six hectare site which was reclaimed from bogland for a farm in the 1980s and used as pasture since.

"We have always said that we think three bodies are in that area and until there is further identification we just don't know," a spokesman said.

Jon Hill, senior investigator with the ICLVR, spoke with Lynskey family members following the discovery.

"They were shocked but in a way pleased," he said. "They are always hopeful of course but they are prepared to not find their loved ones as well.

"It's such a difficult process. There are no guarantees, it's something that we always try to impress on the families.

"But when it does come around it's a great shock and a great relief at the same time."

Maria Lynskey spoke on behalf of the family and said they needed privacy but would discuss the discovery publicly at another time.

Frances Fitzgerald, Ireland's Minister for Justice, said she hoped the discovery will allow another of the families of one of the DIsappeared to give a loved one a proper burial.

"I hope the discovery of remains in Co Meath will allow another chapter to be closed in the tragic saga of the Disappeared," she said.

"For a family to be bereaved but denied the opportunity to bury their loved one is a trauma that is hard to imagine."

Ms Fitzgerald said her thoughts are with those who still await the return of remains.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams welcomed the discovery and reiterated appeals for anyone with information on the Disappeared to come forward.

"I welcome this news. I hope the identity of the remains can be quickly verified and that this discovery will bring some closure to the family and loved ones," he said.

Funeral arrangements will be made after the bodies are released to the family in the coming days.

Months of painstaking searches by the ICLVR have been taking place in Coghalstown, including the use of a cadaver dog late last year to detect signs of human remains.

The discovery, if confirmed as bodies of those people on the list, would be the 11th and 12th discoveries by the ICLVR.