24/02/2009

Bog Meadows Search Underway For Boys' Remains

There has been a call for sensitivity from a local politician as police forensic teams today began examining ground close to the Bog Meadows wildlife sanctuary in west Belfast.

Police were carrying out a dig at the nature reserve today after an unrelated search for unmarked babies' graves uncovered further, unexpected human remains.

The PSNI was called in and they are now digging specifically for the graves of John Rodgers, aged 13, and Thomas Spence, 11, who went missing from their homes nearby in 1974.

The authorities said no discovery had yet been made, but confirmed they were investigating 'an anomaly' which was detected during a survey.

Grieving families believe hundreds of dead babies may have been inadvertently transferred from unmarked graves from a neighbouring cemetery when that land was sold some years ago.
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The new PSNI examination follows a search several weeks ago of land once owned by Milltown Cemetery involving dogs trained to indicate where human remains might be buried and usually used by the police. The search is focused on a small area of a field adjoining the cemetery.

The land itself was bought by the Ulster Wildlife Trust some years ago and is now incorporated in the Bog Meadows Reserve.

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has expressed his hope that issues around bereaved families and Milltown cemetery can be resolved quickly.

Representatives have been meeting with the families and with the other agencies involved, including the PSNI, Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Catholic Church, on this matter in recent days and months.

"Following a completion of a recent survey by Queen's University we fully expect that it will be possible in the near future to resolve all of the concerns raised by bereaved families," commented the West Belfast MP and Sinn Féin President

"We are aware that the survey has identified an issue around a small piece of ground which the PSNI wish to investigate further.

"We hope that this work can be completed quickly with sensitivity and discretion," he said.

(BMcC/JM)

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