The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has told a Palm Sunday service for families of the Disappeared that there is still hope that information will help them find their loved ones.
The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, spoke during a special service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.
Families of the Disappeared said they welcomed his comments.
Over the past 16 years, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) has searched for 16 people who were officially listed as “disappeared”.
The remains of 12 of the victims have been recovered and formally identified to date.
Four people have not yet been found – Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh, Robert Nairac and Seamus Ruddy.
Archbishop Martin told the congregation there was still so much to be done to uncover the truth of what happened to many victims during the Troubles, and he called for a “truth recovery mechanism” to allow people to come forward with information.
“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 powered and enabled, to accept and sensitively share information in this regard,” he said.
Speaking after the service, he added: “One of the difficulties of the terrible things that happened in the past is that they don’t just disappear with death.
“They are handed on to children and to grandchildren and those hurts, those deep wounds and traumas, fester and continue and block progress and lasting peace and justice.
“We’re talking about people on all sides, people who pulled the trigger, who planted a bomb.
‘Basic human right’
“Other people who maybe kept watch, who colluded. People who are intimidated. And I actually think that they too will find peace if they are able to unburden themselves of some of the things that they did.
“I believe there are people who would be very willing to become involved in an information retrieval process that would allow the grief of families to be quelled, which would allow people to move on there are many people among those in the church and others in society.”
The comments were welcomed by the brother of Columba McVeigh, one of those who has not yet been found.
“Information is the key to recovering these bodies, there’s still four left so we need some information to get the commission back digging,” said Oliver McVeigh.
There were still people in the North Monaghan area who he believed had not yet come forward with information, added Mr McVeigh.
“The basic human right is for a burial of those who die. And we saw a number of weeks ago in Derry (at Martin McGuinness’ funeral) the importance Republicans place on death, committal and burial,” he said.
“So we’re asking the same. We just want to get my brother as the other families want to get their relatives as well, to be able to bury them in a grave and go and visit that grave like everyone else does.”
Philomena McKee, whose brother Kevin McKee was located in 2015, said the annual service was a source of support for the families.
“With the Disappeared’s families, it’s like one big family now. Everybody knows what everybody’s going through. And even though my brother’s been found, I still know what these people are going through.”
Source: BBC News