'Time is running out' admits man leading search for body of murdered Sunderland soldier

The man heading the hunt for the missing remains of a murdered soldier fears “time is running out” to solve the mystery.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 4:45 am

Sunderland-raised Captain Robert Nairac was executed by the IRA on May 15, 1977, after he was kidnapped from a Catholic pub while working undercover during Northern Ireland’s bloody Troubles.

While six men were eventually convicted of their part in his murder, no-one has revealed what happened to the Grenadier Guard’s body.

Investigators have also repeatedly discounted rumours that the 28-year-old military intelligence officer’s corpse was fed to an industrial mincer.

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Sunderland soldier Captain Robert Nairac, second right, on patrol in Ulster during the 1970s.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains (ICLVR), which has recovered the bodies of 13 of the Troubles’ so-called Disappeared, instead believes his remains are buried in vast County Louth countryside across the Republic of Ireland border.

A search will only commence, however, once its receives intelligence about a more precise location.

ICLVR lea investigator Geoff Knupfer said the inquiry has been hampered by the ongoing pandemic and added: “While there are still things going on behind the scenes which I cannot discuss, there are no specific new lines of inquiry.

"I accept that time is running out. Some of the people who were obviously involved have passed away and as time moves on more and more who know something will die too.

Murdered Sunderland soldier Captain Robert Nairac's body has still to be recovered following his execution by the IRA in 1977.

"But there is also the possibility that people may want to clear their own consciences as they get older.

“We have had that previously with some of the other cases.”

Captain Nairac, whose family lived in Thornhill Gardens, off Tunstall Road, Ashbrooke, reputedly sang Republican songs in the Three Steps pub, in Dromintee, South Armagh, on May 14, 1977, before he was abducted and executed across the border the following morning after his behaviour aroused suspicion.

He is one of only three of the Disappeared whose remains are still missing.

Geoff Knupfer is leading the search for Captain Nairac's remains.

Mr Knupfer said: “Our record is second to none and we are not allowed to pass any information on to any other authority.

"What anyone tells us will not be used in any criminal inquiry. It is about the recovery and return of a loved one’s body to their family.”

The ICLVR can be contacted on 00800 55585500 or via email at [email protected]

A £20,000 Crimestoppers reward is also on offer with further information available at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

The Three Steps pub where Captain Nairac was abducted from in 1977.

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