Two bodies found in Ireland in search for 1972 IRA victim

Dublin (AFP) - Investigators searching remote farmland in Ireland on Thursday for a former Cistercian monk murdered and secretly buried by the IRA 43 years ago have found two bodies.

Investigators were searching for the remains of Joe Lynskey, one of 16 victims known as "the Disappeared", who vanished without trace during the three decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland.

Following a new lead last year, a search for his remains got underway in reclaimed bogland in Coghalstown in County Meath, close to the Northern Ireland border.

"Human remains have been found during the search for one of The Disappeared in Meath," the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR) said in a statement on Thursday.

"They have not been identified but was in the area where the Commission was searching for IRA victim Joe Lynskey."

In a follow-up statement shortly afterwards, the Commission confirmed "that during the recovery process at Coghalstown it was found that there was more than one body in the grave."

The search area is believed to be the final resting place of three IRA victims from Belfast: Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee.

The men are believed to have been abducted, executed and secretly buried by IRA paramilitaries in 1972.

Post-mortem examinations will be carried out after the remains have been recovered from the site.

Set up after the historic Good Friday peace agreement was signed in 1998, the ICLVR has worked to help find the Disappeared.

The most high-profile victim was widowed Belfast mother-of-ten Jean McConville, whose remains were found on a beach in Co Louth in 2003.

Until Thursday, the remains of ten of the Disappeared have been recovered. The ICLVR also found another victim, Brendan Megraw, in nearby bogland in October, 36 years after he went missing.

Welcoming the discovery, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA, urged anyone with information to come forward.

"I want to appeal again for anyone with any information on those remains still not found to bring that information forward to the families, to the Commission or myself.

"Any information passed to the Commission cannot be used in a court of law or transmitted to any other agency and those passing on this information have absolute immunity in relation to this information."

In a short statement, Maria Lynskey, the niece of Joe Lynskey, thanked "those who have engaged with the Commission in the search for her uncle.

"Our thoughts are with the other families whose loved ones remain disappeared," she added.

In an interview with AFP last December, Maria said: "I just want him home. I just want him back with his mother. All mothers need their children and she needs hers."

Some 3,000 people were killed in the three decades of sectarian bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles" before the peace agreement in 1998.

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