The search for a Northern Ireland teenager kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA is being put on hold for the winter due to “dangerous” weather conditions.
Columba McVie (19), from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, was last seen in November 1975.
He is one of the “disappeared” victims of the Troubles whose bodies are yet to be found.
In early October, forensic archaeologists and excavators began a new attempt to locate her remains at a site at Bragan Bog, near Amyvale, Co Monaghan.
This is the sixth discovery of Columba in the area since 1999.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) said excavations at the Co Monaghan bog were being halted because “persistent and heavy rain will make the bog too dangerous for contractors and archaeologists”.
John Hill, senior investigator at the ICLVR, said working on the bog land “is a significant challenge at the best of times”.
He said the winter break, announced as expected, was to “maximize our opportunities for exploration when weather and ground conditions improve”.
At the start of the new search on October 3rd, Columba’s brother, Oliver McVeigh, told the PA News Agency about the difficulty of going back to the “dark area”.
“Just imagine taking a 19-year-old out here, shooting him like a dog, burying him like a dog and leaving him there, never to be found again. Horrible,” Mr. McVeigh said.
“It’s been four years since the last (discovery), but the fact that we are digging him up and finding him, yes, that’s good, but we want to find him and not waste people’s time and give him a Christian burial. .
“It’s important for the ERA to tell people: we want to find his body, we’re not going, we want answers, we want people to come and tell us where he is and find a specific place and bury him.”
Speaking about the search being suspended, Mr Hill said: “Any suspension of the search is very disappointing for the McVeigh family, but they understand the reasons.
“And they also know that we will return with a renewed determination to do everything in our power to bring this quest to a successful conclusion and bring Columba home.”
The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone on 00800 5558 5500, international on +353 1 602 8655 or by email at [email protected] – PA