Search for disappeared Columba McVeigh resumes
A new search for a teenager murdered and secretly buried by the IRA has resumed.
Columba McVeigh, 19, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, was last seen in November 1975.
He is one of three of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles whose bodies have still to be found.
A new search for his remains started last September in bogland across the Irish border in Co Monaghan.
It was suspended in early November due to weather conditions.
Excavators will return to a site at Bragan bog near Emyvale on Tuesday to resume the search effort, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) has announced.
Four previous searches in the bog have not uncovered his remains.
Jon Hill, the senior investigator with the ICLVR who is leading the search, said it has taken some time for the bog to dry out sufficiently to allow the use of machinery.
“We’ve managed to do some preparatory work in advance of today and so we’re able to get down to the search proper straight away,” he said.
“As I explained back in September we are searching an area of about one acre in total which is smaller than some we have worked on in previous Disappeared searches but this is challenging terrain.
“We are about half way through the planned search area but as before I’m not going to put a precise time frame on how long we’ll be here.
“Obviously our hope is that we find Columba at an early stage but as ever we’ll have to wait to see.
“What I can absolutely guarantee is that the highly skilled contractors and forensic archaeologists working here will do everything they humanly can to get the result that we all know will mean so much to the McVeigh family and all those who support them.”
Last week the CrimeStoppers charity announced that an anonymous donor had put up a reward of 60,000 US dollars (£47,539) for information that results in the recovery of the remains of the three outstanding Disappeared cases.
The remaining members of the disappeared include former monk, Joe Lynskey, soldier Robert Nairac as well as Mr McVeigh.
Geoff Knupfer the lead investigator with the ICLVR explained that this money will be divided equally between those that provide information leading to the discovery of Mr Lynskey and Mr Nairac.
“The search for Columba was under way well before the CrimeStoppers reward was made available and it can only be claimed on the basis of new information that in the first instance goes to CrimeStoppers and that results in the recovery of the remains of the outstanding Disappeared cases,” he said.
“As Jon has said we want to find Columba as quickly as possible and as things stand that would be on the basis of existing information.
“If that proves to be the case and we find him then the 20,000 dollars allocated to Columba’s case will be divided equally between the other two raising the reward figure to 30,000 dollars each for the recovery of the remains of Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac.
“I want to stress that for the reward to be triggered new information must be registered with CrimeStoppers and it must result in the recovery of the remains.
“All information that goes to CrimeStoppers will be given only to the ICLVR and no one else and at all times and at all stages it will be treated in complete and total confidence.”
The Crimestoppers phone line is 0800 555 111 and the untraceable anonymous online form is at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone: 00800-55585500 International: +353 1 602 8655.