By Gráinne Ní Aodha and Cate McCurry, PA
The search for a Tyrone teenager who was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA, is being paused for the winter due to “dangerous” weather conditions.
Columba McVeigh (19), from Donaghmore in Co Tyrone, was last seen in November 1975.
He is one of the “Disappeared” victims of the Troubles whose bodies have still to be found.
At the beginning of October, forensic archaeologists and excavators began a fresh attempt to locate his remains at a site at Bragan Bog, near Emyvale, Co Monaghan.
It is the sixth search since 1999 to try to find Columba in the area.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) said the dig at the Co Monaghan bog was being paused as “persistent and torrential rain will make the bog too dangerous for contractors and archaeologists”.
Jon Hill, the ICLVR’s senior investigator, said that working on bog land “is a significant challenge at the best of times”.
He said that the pause over the winter period, announced as expected, was done to “maximise our opportunities for discovery when weather and ground conditions have improved”.
At the beginning of the new search on October 3rd, Columba’s brother, Oliver McVeigh, told the PA news agency of the difficulty of being back to the “bleak area”.
“Just imagine taking a 19-year-old out here, walking him out and shooting him like a dog, burying him like a dog and leaving him there, to be never found again. Horrific,” Mr McVeigh said.
“It’s been four years since the last [search], but the very fact we are back digging and looking for 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 to tell the IRA people: we want to find his body, we are not going away, we want answers, we want people to come and tell us where he is and get the exact spot and bury him.”
Speaking about the search being paused, Mr Hill said: “Any suspension of a search is deeply frustrating for the McVeigh family, but they understand the reasons for it.
“And they also know that we will be back with renewed determination to do everything in our power to bring this search to a successful conclusion and bring Columba home.”
The ICLVR can be contacted by telephone on +353 1 602 8655 or by email at email@example.com.