Remains of two IRA “disappeared” found and identified

The TroublesRemains of two IRA “disappeared” found and identified

Published 9 September 2015

Two bodies found in an Irish bog were confirmed by DNA tests to be the remains of Séamus Wright and Kevin McKee, two of the IRA’s “disappeared.” The two members of the Provisional IRA (PIRA) in west Belfast vanished in 1972, and were likely kidnapped, interrogated, then killed by the PIRA. Of the seventeen people killed by the IRA and then disappeared during the Northern Ireland Troubles, the remains of thirteen have been found and identified. Four people remain on the disappeared list.

Two bodies found in an Irish bog were confirmed by DNA tests to be the remains of Séamus Wright and Kevin McKee, two of the IRA’s “disappeared.”

The two members of the Provisional IRA (PIRA) in west Belfast vanished in 1972, and were likely kidnapped, interrogated, then killed by the PIRA.

The bodies of the disappeared were buried in secret locations across the border in the Irish Republic.

The Guardian reports that Sir Ken Bloomfield and Frank Murray, senior members of the independent commission responsible for locating the remains of seventeen people killed by the IRA and then disappeared during the Northern Ireland Troubles, said DNA examination of samples taken from the remains found in the bog in County Meath confirmed they were Wright and McKee.

“The results positively indicate that the remains are those of Séamus Wright and Kevin McKee. Dr. Brian Farrell, coroner for the city of Dublin, has accepted this as evidence of identification and will shortly authorize the release of the remains to the families. The thoughts of everyone in the commission are with the Wright and McKee families at this difficult time.”

Wright and McKee were accused by the PIRA’s Belfast brigade of being agents for an undercover British Army unit which conducted a covert campaign against republicans in Belfast.

Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin leader, said the DNA identifications should bring an end to the uncertainty for the McKee and Wright families.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped in the search for the remains of those who were killed and secretly buried by the IRA,” Adams said. “Republicans have cooperated fully with the commission and we now need to continue to do our utmost to bring closure for the remaining families. Today’s confirmation is an important step toward achieving this.”

One of the more poignant disappeared cases was that of Jean McConville, a widow and mother of ten. Last year, former Belfast IRA commander and hunger striker Brendan Hughes admitted he took part in kidnapping her, taking her in a car from west Belfast across the border to the republic, shooting her dead, and burying her at a beach in County Louth. Hughes claimed he was acting on orders from Adams, who wanted McConville killed and buried in secret to avoid political embarrassment for the republican movement (see “Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams arrested over 1972 murder,” HSNW, 1 May 2014).

Adams has always adamantly denied any connection to the McConville murder, or even to being a member of the IRA.

The Guardian notes that four people remain on the disappeared list, with three of them believed to have been kidnapped and killed by the IRA. One of the three is Séamus Ruddy, a County Down schoolteacher and member of the Irish Republican Socialist party. He was abducted in Paris in the 1980s by a faction of the Irish National Liberation Army, then tortured and killed. Another one is SAS Captain Robert Nairac who vanished while on a covert mission in South Armagh.

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