Families of the Disappeared

Throughout the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland many individuals have been killed and many families and communities have struggled with the aftermath. One area which has been particularly difficult is the issue of 'The Disappeared'. Abducted, murdered and secretly buried, their families have struggled with the pain and trauma of bereavement in addition to the agony of not knowing where their loved one are buried and why and how they were taken. In addition, the community has often been silent concerning these cases, with an underlying fear of the consequences of speaking out.

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There were eighteen people who ‘disappeared’ as a result of paramilitary organisations during the Troubles/Conflict. Of these eighteen, to date 13 of the victims have been recovered with five still missing. Lisa Dorrian who disappeared in 2005 is included in this 18. Her case is not included in the remit and legislation for The Independent Commission for The Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) which can only work on the cases of those who disappeared up to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

In total, there have been 18 known cases of individuals who have been murdered and secretly buried. 


Still Missing: five individuals; four from during 'The Troubles'

  • Columba Mc Veigh disappeared on 1st November 1975, his body has never been recovered. He was from Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone and was 17 years old when he was abducted and killed. He had been working as a painter in Dublin and had only returned to Northern Ireland a few days earlier. Although extensive searches, based on information received, have been carried out in bogland near Emyvale Co. Monaghan, his remains have yet to be recovered.  
  • In February 2010, Joe Lynskey was added to the official list of The Disappeared. He went missing from his West Belfast home during the summer of 1972. His body has never been recovered. Joseph Lynskey was a former Cistercian monk from the Beechmount area of West Belfast. 
  • Robert Nairac disappeared in 1977. His body has never been recovered. Captain Robert Nairac was an officer with the Grenadier Guards on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland when he was abducted from the Three Steps Pub in Dromintee, South Armagh in May 1977 and murdered. He was 29 years old. 
  • Seamus Ruddy disappeared in Paris on 9th May 1985. His body has never been recovered. Seamus was from Newry and was a 33 year old teacher of English in Paris, France when he disappeared in May 1985. In December 1995 the INLA admitted responsibility for his death. In February 1999 information emerged to suggest that his body was buried in a forest near Rouen, France, but despite searches having been carried out his remains have not yet been recovered.
  • Lisa Dorrian went missing in the early hours of February 28, 2005 after attending a party at a caravan site in the sea side town of Ballyhalbert. It is widely believed she was abducted and murdered by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force. Lisa's case is not included in the remit and legislation of 1999 for The Independent Commission for The Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR).

Found: 13 individuals

  • Eugene Simmons disappeared on 1st January 1981. His body was recovered by accident when bogland was drained on the 24th May 1984 at Knockbridge, Dundalk.
  • Eamon Molloy disappeared on 1st July 1975. His body was discovered on the 28th May 1999 at Old Faughart Cemetery, outside of Dundalk.
  • Brian McKinney disappeared on 25th May 1978. His body was recovered on 29th June 1999 at Colgagh, Iniskeen, Co. Monaghan along with John Mc Clory’s body. John Mc Clory had been kidnapped an hour earlier. 
  • John McClory disappeared with Brian McKinney. His body was also recovered in June 1999.
  • Jean McConville disappeared on the 1st December 1972. Her body was recovered on 27th August 2003 at Shillington Beach, Co. Louth.
  • Gareth O’Connor disappeared on 11th May 2003. His body was recovered on 12th June 2005 at Victoria Lock, just outside Newry. Gareth O’Connor was not included in the remit and legislation of 1999 for the ICLVR. 
  • Danny McIlhone disappeared on 1st July 1981. His body was discovered in 2008 in bogland near the Blessington Lakes, Co. Wicklow. 
  • Charlie Armstrong disappeared on 15th August 1981. His body was found  in bogland at Aughrim More, near Culloville County Monaghan on the 29 July 2010.
  • Gerard (Gerry) Evans disappeared on his way home to Crossmaglen.  His body was recovered on the 15th October 2010 following an extensive search in bogland near Carrickrobin, County Louth.
  • Peter Wilson disappeared in August 1973.  As of October 2009, his case was officially included under the ICLVR remit. His body was recovered from Waterfoot Beaca, County Antrim on the 2nd November 2010.
  • Brendan Megraw disappeared from his home in Twinbrook, Belfast on 8th April 1978. His body was found in a drainage ditch on Oristown bog, near Kells in County Meath on 1st October 2014.
  • Kevin Mc Kee disappeared on 2nd October 1972. His body was recovered in a search at Coghalstown for Joe Lynskey on the 25th June 2015 along with the body of Seamus Wright. Kevin McKee was from Belfast and was 16 years of age when he disappeared on the 2nd October 1972.
  • Seamus Wright disappeared on 2nd October 1972 along with Kevin McKee. His body was recovered by ICLVR following a search for Joe Lynskey in the Coghalstown area. 


If you have any information about any of the disappeared, then you can contact the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains below:

  • Britain and Ireland Phone  
00800 – 55585500   

  • Confidential Post Box


PO BOX 10827,

Dublin 2,


All information is strictly confidential

Please click here for the Commission for the Location of Victims Remains website.

Video footage from family members of 'The Disappeared' share their stories.

Families of the Disappeared & WAVE:

Given the circumstances of many of the above cases spanning over 30 years, the families have often been left isolated and vulnerable. They began to meet together from 1997 onwards through the WAVE Trauma Centre. These relationships have been fostered through a series of annual events and campaigns:

  • Public Mass on Palm Sunday to highlight those still missing and to add a further plea for help to resolve the plight of the families concerned
  • All Souls Day Silent Walk held on 2nd  November each year where the families undertake a silent walk at Stormont to symbolise their ongoing plight.A black wreath encompasses white lilies to symbolise those still missing.
  • Appeals,campaigning and meeting with political parties, Special Envoys, the media etc and other special events as appropriate opportunities arise.

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