'Disappeared' victim Seamus Ruddy unlawfully killed, inquest jury finds

One of the so-called Disappeared victims of the Northern Ireland conflict was unlawfully killed, a coroner's court in Dublin said.

Seamus Ruddy, 32, from Newry in Co Down was murdered by republican paramilitaries, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), and secretly buried.

His remains were found in Ponte-de-l'Arche, near Rouen on May 6 2017, during a fourth search attempt.

An inquest jury found that he was unlawfully killed by a person or people unknown having been shot twice in the head in France.

Seamus Ruddy, one of the so-called Disappeared (Family handout/ WAVE Trauma Centre/PA)
Seamus Ruddy, one of the so-called Disappeared (Family handout/ WAVE Trauma Centre/PA)

Mr Ruddy's sister Anne Morgan, 64, said: "As a family, we would like our heartfelt appreciation (to go out) for those who have stood with us over all those many years."

"We acknowledge that the people who had the information about where Seamus was buried, we want to thank them for coming forward."

Mr Ruddy was one of 16 of the Disappeared who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict. Three are still to be recovered.

He moved to Paris in 1983 to work as an English teacher, but was reported missing in 1985 and his remains were not found until 2017.

Ms Morgan thanked the coroner Dr Myra Cullinane for handling proceedings sensitively.

She added: "Seamus was taken in Paris 33 years ago to the day, this year.

"For the first time in 33 years we were able to attend the cemetery on Sunday and pray at the grave of Seamus' rest with his mother and father in Newry."

The inquest heard that Mr Ruddy had been politically active and produced a "news sheet".

His then girlfriend, Cecilia Moore, had moved back to Ireland for a period before his disappearance.
Mr Ruddy phoned his brother Terence on May 9 to tell him he was to meet with three people.

The 73-year-old told the inquest on Wednesday that he had pleaded with his brother not to go.

Mr Ruddy said: "When he said he was going to meet people I just thought that he was telling that for a reason.

"I asked him not go, obviously he did.

"It was a few weeks later when Cecilia rang me, my gut instinct was that he was dead because it was completely out of character for him (not to keep in touch)."

An order of service during the funeral of Seamus Ruddy (Niall Carson/PA)
An order of service during the funeral of Seamus Ruddy (Niall Carson/PA)

Clothes belonging to the victim were later found in a river, after he was reported missing.

These were identified by Ms Morgan, who said paramilitary group the INLA had refused to give her permission to go to France and she received death threats.

Officers made the discovery last year after a confidential tip-off as part of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.

Previous operations - in 1999, 2000 and 2008 - had proved unsuccessful, but came within 20 metres of his body.

Forensic analysis found the remains had a more than one in one billion chance of not being those of Mr Ruddy.

Pathologist professor Marie Cassidy told the inquest Mr Ruddy died after being shot twice in the head.

The jury agreed that the body was that of Mr Ruddy, who died on or about May 9 1985 at Ponte-de-l'Arche due to gunshot wounds in an unlawful killing by a person or persons.

Dr Cullinane said: "This process is the public completion of many long years of anguish and unresolved grieving for the family and friends of Seamus.

The remains of Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac have yet to be found.

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