People urged to share secrets on Disappeared victims

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has made a new appeal to those with sensitive information about killings and other activities during the Troubles to find a way of helping families who suffered.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said trustworthy people in society and in the churches might be willing to receive such information in the absence of formal mechanisms being established.

Speaking at a mass in Armagh, Archbishop Martin said there are people on all sides, in Ireland, Britain and beyond, who carry secrets.

Some “pulled the trigger, planted the bomb, blindly followed orders or gave the command for death or punishment”.

Others “willingly drove a car, kept watch, spread fear, collected money or information, sheltered combatants, colluded or covered up, destroyed evidence or intimidated witnesses”, he said.

The Catholic primate referred to what he called “awful, terrible times” when shocking and horrific things happened.

He said: “There must be many people walking around today who know in their hearts that the information they have locked down inside them is capable of unlocking the uncertainty and grief in families.”

He then referred to how sensitive information might be shared.

“Those who were involved must, of course, find their own peace with God and with society. For our part, we need to find a mechanism of truth and information retrieval which will allow more of these people to come forward so that many more families can be set free from the agony of waiting and wondering, ‘why?’.

“Even in the absence of a formal mechanism, I am confident that there are trustworthy people in society and in the churches who would be willing, and could be empowered and enabled, to accept and sensitively share information in this regard.”

He made his remarks at the annual Palm Sunday mass for the families of the Disappeared – the 17 people who were abducted, killed and secretly buried by Republicans during the Troubles.

The remains of 13 of the victims have been recovered – mainly through information given by the IRA to the commission set up by the Irish and British governments to help the families of the deceased.

But four bodies have yet to be recovered: The remains of Belfast man Joe Lynskey, Co Tyrone born Columba McVeigh, British Army captain Robert Nairac who was abducted from a south Armagh pub and Seamus Ruddy who was killed by the INLA in France.

Archbishop Martin made a fresh appeal for help to bring closure to the four families whose loved ones were disappeared.

His remarks came on the eve of the resumption of negotiations at Stormont where, so far, parties have been unable to reach an agreement on the formation of a new power-sharing administration.

One of the areas of disagreement in the talks is the structures and initiatives that are required to deal with legacy issues.

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