Recovery of body dismissed
The Ulster Unionist party has expressed dismay at reports that
the IRA may have disclosed the location of the body of alleged
IRA informer Gareth O'Connor.
The mother of the 24-year-old said she hopes the body recovered
from a canal outside Newry in County Armagh is her son's.
Bernadette O'Connor said it would be a "relief" to finally have
her son's body to lay to rest.
"It would be a blessing. I hope it is Gareth so we can put him
to rest and start grieving."
Mr O'Connor has been missing since May 11, 2003. His blue
Volkswagen Golf was taken from Victoria Lock in Newry Canal at
the weekend following a reported tip-off to clergymen. A body
found inside has not yet been conclusively identified, nor has
the cause of death.
Mr O'Connor had links with the Real IRA, and dissident
republicans have been accused of being behind his abduction two
His father, Mark O'Connor, said his son had also been involved
in a financial dspute with the Provisional IRA before his
disappearance. The Provisional IRA has denied any involvement in
Mr O'Connor's disappearance.
Senior Ulster Unionist and potential party leader, Reg Empey,
accused the IRA of acting "cynically" in advance of an expected
move by the organisation to disarm.
Empey, who is currently seeking the leadership of the Ulster
Unionist Party, warned that the discovery of the body and the
charges against two people relating to the murder of Robert
McCartney could be "interpreted as a tidying-up operation by
"I think this is a sort of cleaning of the stables in advance of
the IRA announcement, and I think it will be seen as a cynical
exercise. It is already devaluing the benefit of what
republicans do," he added. Empey said that "such jiggery pokery"
would not wash.