Seamus Ruddy: Human remains found in search of French forest

Seamus RuddyImage copyright
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Seamus Ruddy was working as a teacher in Paris when he was abducted and murdered

Human remains have been found at the site in northern France where a search has been taking place for the body of Seamus Ruddy, one of the Disappeared.

News that human remains had been uncovered came early on Saturday morning.

Investigators from the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains have been digging at the site in a forest near Rouen since Monday.

Mr Ruddy was working as a teacher in Paris in 1985.

He was murdered by republican paramilitaries, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), and secretly buried.

The Disappeared are those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

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Mervyn Jess at the scene of the search near Rouen, France

From the scene, the BBC’s Mervyn Jess reports

It is a miserable day in northern France. Mist clings to the tree tops in a heavily-wooded area, just south of Rouen.

Among the trees, a man-made clearing is populated by workmen in fluorescent vests. They make up the team from the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains.

For the past week, they’ve been clearing away trees, saplings and undergrowth in the search for Seamus Ruddy. Now it seems that search has reached a conclusion with the discovery of human remains.

The 50 sq kms of forest are home to an array of wildlife, with deer and wild boar roaming freely. During the hunting season, the usually quiet remoteness of this part of Normandy is shattered by the sound of gunfire.

In May 1985, nobody heard the shot that killed Seamus Ruddy except those who murdered him. His body was buried in the flinty soil and left there.

The Newry-born teacher who had been working in Paris when he disappeared, was murdered by the INLA. He became one of a group known as the “Disappeared”.

For 32 years, his family has been trying to locate his body to bring him home for a Christian burial. Today, under a rain-soaked tent, what could be his remains may mark the end of that sorrowful quest.

Mr Ruddy’s sister, Anne Morgan, was the last member of his family to see the County Down teacher alive. She visited the scene on Friday. It is understood she has been informed about the discovery.

This latest search began in a forest at Pont-de-l’Arche after new information on the whereabouts of Mr Ruddy was passed to the ICLVR from the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and former INLA members.

The group has close links to the INLA. Sources in the IRSP claim Mr Ruddy went willingly with INLA members from Paris to the wooded area, where there was an arms dump.

Sister ‘knows names of killers’

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ICLVR

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A new search for Seamus Ruddy’s remains began after fresh information came to light

What happened among the group is not clear but Mr Ruddy was shot dead. He was buried in a shallow grave.

Sources claim that INLA members returned to the spot the following day, removed the arms cache and buried Mr Ruddy where it had been.

It is understood that former INLA and IRSP members travelled to northern France last year to try to pinpoint the spot where the Newry man was buried.

Mr Ruddy’s sister, Anne Morgan, has said she knows the names of the people who killed her brother.

Mr Ruddy was one of four people out of 16 Disappeared whose bodies had not been found.

The others are Columba McVeigh, Joe Lynskey and Army Capt Robert Nairac.

Seamus Ruddy: Human remains found in search of French forest

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