Human remains found during a search in northern France have been confirmed as those of Seamus Ruddy, one of the Disappeared.
They were uncovered on Saturday morning after a number of searches in France.
Mr Ruddy was working as a teacher in Paris in 1985.
The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear, but he was shot dead by republican paramilitaries, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), and secretly buried in a shallow grave.
Mr Ruddy’s sister, Anne Morgan, said it was “an enormous relief” to have the confirmation, which was made after French authorities completed DNA profiling on the remains.
She told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme that her brother’s remains would be taken to Dublin for further tests and then eventually to Newry for a Christian burial.
The development was confirmed by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), which was set up during the peace process by the UK and Irish governments to recover the bodies of those murdered and secretly buried, mainly by the IRA, in the 1970s and 1980s.
The remains were found during a search of a forest at Pont-de-l’Arche after new information was passed to the ICLVR by former INLA members and the closely linked Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).
IRSP sources claim Mr Ruddy went willingly with INLA members from Paris to the wooded area, where there was an arms dump.
Sources claim that INLA members returned to the spot the following day, removed the arms cache and buried Mr Ruddy where it had been.
Ms Morgan said that having waited so long for the news, life had changed for the family “inside a minute”.
“My mother discovered through a newspaper article in 1995 that Seamus was dead,” she said.
“She decided to put his name on her headstone, then within three months she had died.
‘Final resting place’
“She just said ‘I need this – I have to do this. If I put his name on the headstone, no-one will forget him.’
“She went to her grave not knowing where he was but she was more content that she knew his name was on the headstone and he would have a final resting place.”
Ms Morgan said it was “more poignant” than ever to be able to get closure on her brother’s death now that her family was older.
“In a sense we are all together again. At this time it becomes a very personal family journey, we are prepared for this and we are all together and we will be ok,” she said.
“We just have to wait another little while but the 32 years were the longest years that we had to wait. The next few weeks, won’t be as bad.”
Mr Ruddy was one of four people out of 16 Disappeared whose bodies had not been found; the others are Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Army Capt Robert Nairac.
Source: BBC News