Death of one of the founders of the Families of the Disappeared

2nd February 2017

Margaret McKinney one of the founders of the Families of the Disappeared who has died (31 January) aged 85 was described by Sandra Peake, CEO of the WAVE Trauma Centre as ‘a truly remarkable woman who was instrumental in bringing the issue of the Disappeared from the silent fringes into the peace process itself’.

Mags McKinney’s son Brian was abducted by the IRA, murdered and secretly buried in 1978.

Speaking out against the IRA was dangerous but Mags showed no concern for her personal safety and vowed never to give up until he was returned to her.

Sandra Peake recalls meeting Mags for the first time in 1995.

“The first time we met she said ‘Love I don’t know what you can do for me‘ and to be honest I didn’t know either. But we worked to highlight Brian’s case and over time met others who became the Families of the Disappeared and started to work together with Mags ever present”

She took her case to the then Prime Minister John Major but Mag’s history changing moment came in 1998 when as part of a WAVE delegation she met President Clinton.

Sandra Peake takes up the story.

“Mags was never over awed by any occasion and as she told President Clinton about Brian he was moved to tears.

He told her that he would do all that he could to get Brian back”.

In a telephone conversation between President Clinton and Tony Blair the next day, a transcript of which was released last year, President Clinton says that ‘the women have given me an idea’.

He went on to outline what was to become the process later set up by the British and Irish Governments in 1999 creating the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

Of the 16 Disappeared, the remains of 12 have been recovered.

The body of Brian McKinney along with that of John McClory who was abducted with him was recovered at Colgagh, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan on 30 June 1999.

Sandra Peake continued:

“Mags met Bill Clinton again in 2014 when he visited Belfast.

She was more frail but less haunted by the past.

She thanked him for his support and showed him a photograph that was very dear to her.

It was of Brian’s grave.

There were more tears that day.

Like other Families of the Disappeared who had loved ones returned, Mags continued to support those still waiting.

She was an astonishing woman whose warmth, humour and sprit was inspirational”.

Anyone with information on the Disappeared should contact the ICLVR on 00800 555 85500, by writing to ICLVR, PO Box 10827, Dublin 2. or via the
website www.iclvr.ie