A BISHOP has appealed for information on the location of the remaining Disappeared — those people believed abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.
In a Vigil Mass to mark the First Sunday of Advent attended by families of nine of the Disappeared, Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan said 'no family deserves not to have the consolation of a grave'.
Addressing those gathered at St Catherine's Church in Oristown, Co. Meath, Bishop Deenihan said he hoped the passage of time would encourage anyone with information to come forward.
According to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), four of the 17 Disappeared have yet to be recovered.
Families of three of those still missing — Joseph Lynskey, Columba McVeigh and Seamus Maguire — were in attendance at the Mass.
"These families here tonight have lost a relative during the Troubles," said Bishop Deenihan.
"The relatives of Joseph Lynskey have been waiting to find his body since 1972; the family of Columba McVeigh, who was just 19 when he was abducted, have been waiting to find a body since 1975, that is 47 years ago; and Seamus Maguire's family have been waiting since 1973.
"These three families are also suffering the added pain of not having a grave to pray at. That is cruel."
He added: "No family deserves not to have the consolation of a grave.
"No Christian, no child of God, no one made in the likeness of God, deserves to be abandoned in a field or bog."
Three of the 13 already recovered were found close to the site of Saturday evening's Mass.
The remains of Brendan Megraw, 23, were found in Oristown in October 2014.
Eight months later, the remains of Kevin McKee, 17, were found together with those of Seamus Wright, 25, a few miles from Oristown in Coghalstown, Co. Meath.
Bishop Deenihan said there was a chance the remains of those still missing were also located nearby and urged anyone with information to come forward.
"There is a belief that the bodies of some of those who were abducted and killed still lie near here in unmarked graves," he said.
"That is why these families and I are here this evening. Time is passing.
"Some of those who may have some shred of information may also be getting old.
"Indeed, some of those who may have information or may have been involved may have died."
He added: "As people grow older and as some die, it may be easier for those who feel that they may have some scrap of information to come forward."
Republican paramilitaries have admitted responsibility for the majority of the Disappeared.
Among the victims was 37-year-old Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10 who was abducted and killed in 1972.
Her remains were recovered in Co. Louth 31 years later.
As well as Lynskey, McVeigh and Maguire, the fourth remaining Disappeared yet to be recovered is Robert Nairac.
A British Army officer in the Grenadier Guards, he was on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland when he was abducted from a Co. Armagh pub in 1977 and murdered.
Bishop Deenihan stressed that his appeal was not centred on retribution or justice 'but is based on compassion, decency and, simply, doing the right and honourable thing'.
He urged anyone with information to contact ICLVR in confidence.
The commission can be contacted on 00800 5558 5500 (Britain and Ireland), +353 1 602 8655 (international) or by email on [email protected]