By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Details of the possible burial site of a Northern Ireland teacher and members of the INLA who was shot by the Irish National Liberation Army near Rouen 14 years ago has been supplied to the French authorities by go-betweens in the search for the body.
Seamus Ruddy, 33, from Newry, was murdered and secretly buried by fellow INLA members in May 1995.
Ruddy is one of the North’s so-called "disappeared" — about 12 victims of the 30 years of violence whose bodies have never been handed over to their families for burial.
None of the remains of the victims, who were murdered by the INLA or the IRA, have been returned to their families since the peace agreement was negotiated last year.
Willie Gallagher, a member of the INLA’s political wing, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, said a swathe of ground measuring about 50 by 80 meters within which Ruddy was buried had been identified by them.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
Gallagher, who is the party’s prisoners’ representative, said a map showing the possible grave site had been supplied to the French authorities last September via the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.
He said the map of forest near Rouen had an X on it to mark the spot.
"The French got the permission of a magistrate to search but the X was a few millimeters off on the map and this translated to hundreds of meters on the ground."
They had been sent more detailed maps, videos and photographs from France and the site had now been more specifically identified.
Gallagher said problems had arisen as the terrain had changed over the years and the people who were there at the time of the murder are all dead.
"We have now provided all the information we can get. The fact that the main players who were involved in the shooting are dead makes it more complicated.
"We have spoken to a number of individuals who had been to the site prior to 1995 when it was an arms dump. He was buried in the arms dump but no arms were left there.
"I was in jail at the time of the shooting and it is my own personal opinion that he should never have been shot."
He said that the IRSP leadership regarded the return of the body as a moral issue and he hoped the new information they have now provided would result in the discovery of Ruddy’s body.
Ruddy, who was teaching in Paris at the time of his death, was the son of a former Labor councilor in the town of Newry.