Suspected remains of 57-year-old Irishman abducted, killed by IRA in 1981 are found in a bog

Friday, July 30, 2010

Irish find remains of IRA victim missing since ‘81

DUBLIN — The suspected remains of a 57-year-old Northern Ireland man who was abducted by the Irish Republican Army in 1981 have been unearthed in a bog in Ireland.

A joint British-Irish commission that has spent the past decade searching for the unmarked graves of 15 IRA victims says it will take weeks of DNA testing to confirm whether the remains are those of Charlie Armstrong.

But Armstrong’s family said Friday they are hopeful that his burial spot has been found just across the border in the Republic of Ireland county of Monaghan.

Kathleen Armstrong said the disappearance of her husband and three-decade wait for answers represented “the worst thing that’s ever happened. But let’s hope this is true, and that the rest of the families get their loved ones as well.”

“Hopefully the good will outweigh the bad and we’ll get him home and be happy,” added one of the couple’s five children, Terry Armstrong.

Thursday’s discovery follows a tip-off from a confidential informant who provided a map marking the approximate spot where IRA members secretly buried Armstrong. His widow had pleaded since 1990 for the IRA to say where his body had been left.

The commission was established in 1999 after the IRA admitted responsibility for killing most, but not all, of 15 people who disappeared in the 1970s and 1980s. Fourteen were Catholics who lived in IRA power bases.

The IRA for decades had denied responsibility, partly because those killed were unarmed civilians who had crossed the IRA in some way, in some cases because they told police of IRA activities or robbed IRA-owned businesses.

Information passed by IRA members since 1999 has helped to pinpoint the confirmed graves of six victims. But the eight others — including a British Army intelligence officer abducted as he tried to mingle with IRA members in a border pub in 1976 — have yet to be found.

Armstrong disappeared on a Sunday morning while driving to his local Catholic church in Crossmaglen, a notorious IRA power base in the South Armagh borderland. His family suspected he was killed after refusing to surrender his car to IRA hijackers. Police found his car, unlocked and empty, the next day across the border in the Irish town of Dundalk.


Commission for Location of Victims’ Remains,

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