Sister Columba McVeigh looking for her teenage brother: ‘Our hopes were dashed before, but we hope he is found’

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

Igging began yesterday in 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 yet to be found.

A search for Mr McVeigh’s remains in the swamp began last October but was abandoned in early November when ground conditions became too dangerous for contractors and archaeologists to continue.

His sister Dympna Kerr was at the swamp yesterday when the search resumed.

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

He said: “We have marked out an area of ​​about two hectares of land that we want to search. Hopefully we will get a dry enough summer to continue the search to a satisfactory conclusion.

“Hopefully that is salvaging the remains of Columba McVeigh. I have every confidence that if he is buried here, we will find him.”

Ms Kerr said the resumption of swamp searches brings both hope and fear. “Of course we hope that Columba will be found, but that hope has been dashed so many times that there is still a gnawing feeling in my stomach,” she said, adding: “Please make it this time.”

“It has been 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, which was to bring a new beginning, a new dawn of hope and for many, including us, it has succeeded.

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

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