Remembering victims who disappeared in the Troubles

Bishop Michael Smith led prayers with relatives of victims who disappeared during the Troubles in the North at a ceremony on Saturday 21 September 2013 near where one of the victims is thought to have been secretly buried.

Newlywed Brendan Megraw, 23, vanished from west Belfast in 1978, and is believed to be interred near Kells in Co Meath. As well as Mr Megraw, at least two other bodies are thought to be buried in Co Meath.  Kevin McKee and Seamus Wright were taken from west Belfast in 1972 and searches have been carried out at Wilkinstown, a short distance from Oristown where Saturday’s prayers will be said.

Sandra Peake, chief executive of the families support group, said: “The journey of the families of the disappeared will not end until they all can take their loved ones home.

Between 1972 and 2003, 17 people have been acknowledged as disappeared during the conflict, having been kidnapped, murdered and disposed of in unmarked graves. The remains of 10 bodies have been recovered.

Bishop Smith emphasised that the context of the gathering “continues to evoke great pain and distress for the families of those whose remains have yet to be found.  The horror and barbarity of what they suffered caused the deepest pain which was only added to by the callous manner in which the bodies were disposed.

The Bishop acknowledged that “time may have dimmed memory but one joins the families in hoping and praying that memories may be jogged and information made available to the Commission.

“Our Scripture readings today remind us” the Bishop said “that ultimately all will have to answer to their consciences before God.  Many acted foolishly along life’s journey, especially when young and immature.  One hopes that the maturity of years and the greater perspective unfolding life brings would encourage anyone with even the slighted piece of information to come forward.”

Among those in attendance with Commissioners Mr Frank Murray and Sir Kenneth Bloomfield.

The Commission, which is independent, co-ordinates the searches using the latest forensic techniques. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Commission, which treats information as confidential.   The Commission explains that all information received is privileged – it cannot be passed on to other agencies or used in a court of law.

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