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  1. ITV Report

Reward offered to locate remains of three of the Disappeared

Three of the so-called Disappeared are still to be found: Robert Nairac, Joe Lynskey and Columba McVeigh. Credit: UTV

A anonymous donor has offered a reward of $60,000 for information that could help locate the remains of three people who went missing during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Robert Nairac were among 16 people classified as Disappeared, who were believed to have been killed and secretly buried by republicans in the 1970s and 1980s, and are the only three yet to be found.

Crime Stoppers said the reward had been offered by an mystery donor and amounted to $20,000 (just over £15,000) for the recovery of each body.

The charity said the reward is about giving the families a ‘long-overdue’ funeral.

Fiona McCormack, director of operations for the charity said: "Our reward is not about finding out what happened to these people. The families of those who have yet to be found deserve to be able to hold a long-overdue funeral for their relatives."

The scene of searches carried out in Co Monaghan in 2018. Credit: UTV

Mr McVeigh, from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, was abducted, shot and secretly buried by the IRA in November 1975.

Republicans with knowledge of the crime have told the commission, in confidence, that the 19-year-old was buried across the border in Bragan bog near Emyvale, but searches in the bog have not uncovered his remains.

Former Cistercian monk Mr Lynskey was kidnapped in west Belfast in August 1972, while British soldier Mr Nairac was taken in South Armagh and killed by the IRA in 1977.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), which has worked to locate the bodies of the Disappeared, said it hoped the reward could help "close a chapter of a terrible story in the lives of families who have suffered decades of torment not knowing where their loved ones were buried".

Geoff Knupfer, lead investigator for the ICLVR, said: "Whether or not it helps bring forward information that we haven't had to date and which results in the location and recovery of the remains we'll have to wait to see."

"If it does it will be a hugely significant breakthrough.

"We should never lose sight of the fact that the whole issue of the Disappeared is fundamentally a humanitarian one."

He went on to emphasise that any information that goes to CrimeStoppers will be passed only to the ICLVR and that all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

“We are entirely information driven. We can give a cast iron guarantee which has been borne out over the 20 years that the ICLVR has been in operation that any information received can only be used by the ICLVR to locate and recover the remains and it will never be shared with any other state body for any other purpose.”