Disappeared victim Seamus Ruddy's family thank those who helped find his body

The family of one of the Disappeared victims of Northern Ireland's Troubles has thanked those who came forward to help locate his body, after more than 30 years.

On Wednesday, an inquest jury found Seamus Ruddy was killed, having been shot twice in the head in France.

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.

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

The inquest was the public confirmation the body was that of Mr Ruddy and how he had been killed.

Speaking outside Dublin District Coroner's Court, sister Anne Morgan thanked those who came forward to give confidential information.

The 64-year-old said: "We want to thank the Dublin Coroner's Court for the sensitive way the inquest has been carried out.

"What has brought us here was the murder of our brother.

"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.

"As a family, we would like out 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."

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

His then girlfriend, Cecilia Moore, 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 pleaded with his brother not to go.

Mr Ruddy said: "When he said he was gong 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 32-year-old from Newry, Co Down were later found in a river after he was reported missing.

These were identified by Ms Morgan, who said paramilitary group INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) refused to give her permission to go to France and she received death threats.

His body was found in Pont-de-l'Arche, near Rouen on May 6 2017, during a fourth search attempt.

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 - 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.

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

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane asked the jury to determine the identity, date of death, cause of death and manner.

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

Dr Cullinane told how the purpose of the inquest was not to attribute blame.

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

"We hope that the successful identification of Seamus' remains, his repatriation, his return to his family and loved ones in some way gives comfort to those of you who have suffered so much."

Three of the 16 Disappeared victims are still to be recovered.

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

Ms Morgan added: "We pray that (their families) will get the same as we have got.

"We have got him home, we have been able to bury him and now we have had an inquest."

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