18 November 2021.
The joint United Kingdom and Irish Commissioners for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) have warmly welcomed the unanimous support for the work of the Commission in recovering the remains of the Disappeared expressed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement today (Thursday 18 November).
The cross party Committee is made up of TDs and Senators along with MPs from Northern Ireland and considers issues arising from Ireland’s role as a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement and ongoing developments in the implementation of the Agreement.
The ICLVR was set up by both governments following the Good Friday Agreement to locate and recover the remains of those abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA, and in one case by the INLA, during the Troubles.
To date the remains of 13 of the 16 Disappeared have been recovered and returned to their families for burial.
The two Commissioners, Rosalie Flanagan and Tim Dalton, along with the ICLVR’s lead investigator Geoff Knupfer, addressed a virtual meeting of the Committee and issued a fresh appeal for information that could lead to the location and recovery of the remains of the three outstanding Disappeared case: Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh and Robert Nairac.
Mr Dalton told the Committee:
“The story of the Disappeared is one of the most tragic of the Troubles and we are honoured to have the opportunity of attempting to ease the pain it brought by attempting to recover remains in the cases still outstanding and returning them to their families.
Once again we are appealing for information that might help us complete our task – however insignificant that information may appear to be – and our earnest request is that this distinguished Committee would lend its support to that appeal”.
Mrs Flanagan made reference to the adverse impact of the Covid pandemic particularly on the work of the ICLVR’s investigators but stressed the need for those who have information to come forward.
Mrs Flanagan said:
“We are very conscious that the three people whose remains have not yet been located disappeared in the 1970s and those who may have information which can be of assistance to us are now likely to be in their seventies or older. I hope sincerely that as we emerge from this period, we will see new information coming forward before it is too late”.
Mr Dalton continued:
“I want to reassure everyone but especially the families of Joe Lynskey, Columba McVeigh and Robert Nairac that the determination of the Commission to complete its work is undiminished.
The support of the Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee is very encouraging”.
Mr Knupfer reiterated the Commission’s appeal and emphasised that all information that comes to the Commission is treated in the strictest confidence and by law cannot be shared with any other individual or organisation.
Mr Knupfer said:
“This is an entirely humanitarian process and we really do need help to return these lost souls to their loved ones for Christian burial. I would remind everyone that since its inception in 1999 no one has ever been interviewed as a suspect, arrested, charged or convicted as a result of information that was passed to the Commission on the Disappeared. Such information can only be used to recover and repatriate victims”.
Mr Knupfer also reminded the Committee that the reward of $60,000 US dollars put up by an anonymous donor for information which results in the recovery of any or all of the three outstanding cases still stands.
Both Commissioners and Mr Knupfer praised the work of the WAVE Trauma Centre which has supported the Families of the Disappeared from the mid 1990s.
The Chair of the Committee, Fergus O’Dowd TD echoed the call for more information to be brought forward.
Mr O’Dowd commented:
“The representatives from all the parties represented on this Committee call on anyone who has information, however small, to bring it forward to the ICLVR.
No one should have any fears about doing that because total secrecy around all information is guaranteed”.
The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone: 00800-55585500 International: +353 1 602 8655
E-mail information to: Secretary@iclvr.ie
By post to: ICLVR PO Box 10827
CrimeStoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111 and the untraceable anonymous online form is at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.