Columba McVeigh’s sister on search for her teenage brother: ‘Our hopes were dashed before, but we hope he will be found’

A search for the remains of a teenager who was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975 has resumed.

igging started yesterday at Bragan Bog in Co Monaghan as investigators search for the body of Columba McVeigh (19) from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone. He is one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles whose bodies have still to be found.

A search for Mr McVeigh’s remains in the bog began in October last year but was suspended at the beginning of November when the ground conditions became too dangerous for contractors and archaeologists to continue.

His sister Dympna Kerr was at the bog yesterday as the search resumed.

Jon Hill, the lead investigator for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), said he believed Mr McVeigh’s remains are in the area they are searching.

He said: “We have set out an area of around two acres of ground that we intend to search. Hopefully we are going to have a dry enough summer to be able to continue the search until a satisfactory conclusion.

“Hopefully that is recovering the remains of Columba McVeigh. I am totally confident that if he was buried here, we will find him.”

Ms Kerr said the resumption of the bog search brings both hope and anxiety. “Of course we hope that Columba will be found but those hopes have been dashed so many times before that there still is that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach,” she said, adding: “Please make it this time.”

“It’s 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, that was to bring in a new beginning, a new dawn of hope and for many, including us, it did.

“But there is still a dark, thick cloud that hasn’t lifted for our family and the other families who are still waiting to bring him home.”

Ms Kerr said she hoped US president Joe Biden would be made aware of the plight of the families of the Disappeared who are still waiting for a resolution during his visit to Northern Ireland later this month.