Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams supports motion on the Disappeared

3 November, 2008 - by Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA speaking today during the debate on the motion in support of the families of the disappeared repeated his call on anyone with any information to bring that information forward.

Mr. Adams said:

"I want to support the motion. I want to commend and support all the families who have suffered a grievous injustice and who have campaigned with dignity for many years to locate the remains of their loved ones. I also want to acknowledge once again the grave injustice inflicted upon these families and to express my deep regret about this.

I want to thank everyone who has worked to help the families, including the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains, An Garda Siochana and the experts and staff who have been brought in to assist in this work. They deserve our full support. For its part the IRA has apologized for the grief it has caused. It has acknowledged that its intention, in working closely with the special forensic investigating team, has been to rectify this injustice. And it has accepted full responsibility for its actions. I know that this is of little consolation to the families involved. They want a Christian burial for their loved ones.

I also believe that the IRA has provided full disclosure of all of the information available to it and that republicans continue to work diligently on this important issue. This was recognized some time ago by the forensic science investigative consultant Geoff Knupfer, who is working for the Independent Commission. He said and I quote; "in a spirit of co-operation and reconciliation they are trying to help in every way they can." Mr. Knupfer went on to say: "I am absolutely convinced that they are doing everything they can to assist. The support we have had from them has been absolutely 100 per cent from day one."

Now let me make it clear none of this minimizes the IRA's responsibility for the suffering endured with great dignity by these families. Mr. Knupfer also acknowledged the incredible difficulties and challenges facing the search teams. He said: "I think that probably in some cases... the people directly involved have died.

If you're reviewing events that took place 30 years ago, then memories do fade and locations change and that's one of the things we have identified pretty rapidly - that the sites have changed dramatically.

Despite this, it is imperative that efforts continue to find the remains. This is equally true also in those instances where the IRA has said it was not involved. The disappearances of Seamus Ruddy, Charlie Armstrong and Gerard Evans are as much a source of trauma and grief for their families as is that endured by the others.

The suffering of all of these families have gone on too long. They have a fundamental right to bury their loved ones and there is an onus on those responsible to help bring this about. The remains of four people have been found but Seamus Wright, Kevin McKee, Columba McVeigh, Brendan McGraw and Danny McIlhone are still missing.

Let there be no doubt that there is ongoing work by republicans to ensure that these families have a Christian burial as soon as possible. Let me also give an opinion, based upon the work that has been done, and it is that the locations identified by republicans contain the burial sites.

Let me also assure the families that even as I speak republicans continue to work on this issue; visiting sites, meeting regularly with the experts and doing all that can be done to bring closure to the families involved. Finally, I want to repeat my call on anyone with any information to bring that information forward.

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