She met the man, whom she later found out was one of the killers, at
the Pompidou Centre in Paris. She'd been told he could help. Her
instructions were to stand at a certain book rack in the library and he
would approach. Her Irish boyfriend had been missing for a month and
she was out of her mind with worry.
The man who appeared
was 'S', an INLA figure in Europe. "The meeting lasted 10 minutes,"
says Cecilia Moore. "I asked dozens of questions. His answers were full
of contradictions. He said Séamus's disappearance had nothing to do
with the INLA and, if I kept making crazy accusations, I'd get them all
arrested. He was heartless. He didn't give a shit. He saw me as an
annoying woman he wanted rid off. I was pleading for information. He
said Séamus was back in Ireland. I said his passport was still in our
Paris apartment. 'Maybe he swam home,' he replied."
Pompidou Centre was an odd meeting point for a republican. It was only
later that Cecilia worked out why it had been chosen: "Visitors had to
pass through a metal detector. The INLA had feared I might get a gun
and shoot S in revenge for Séamus."
What S didn't tell
Moore was that her boyfriend was about 100 miles from Paris, lying in a
forest near the town of Pont de l'Arche in Normandy. It was a far from
peaceful resting place. The first time the grave was so shallow that
deer pawed up the body, exposing a limb. So the killers went back,
moved Séamus, and buried him again.
later, Séamus Ruddy's body still hasn't been found. Since 1999, four
bodies of the disappeared have been found in Ireland. An end appears in
sight in two other cases. DNA tests are underway on remains found last
month in the Wicklow mountains. They are understood to be those of
Danny McIlhone, a Belfast man killed by the IRA. New information has
led to plans for a dig in Co Monaghan for Gerard Evans who was also
killed by the Provisionals. But for Cecilia Moore and the Ruddy family,
the prospect of finding Séamus's body seems as far off as ever. The
INLA has admitted killing him and has given information to the
Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.
we don't believe the same effort has gone into finding our brother as
went into locating the disappeared buried in Ireland," says Séamus's
sister, Anne Morgan. "In border areas, they've spent months searching
for bodies. The combined total of the three digs for Séamus is less
than a week."
Cecilia Moore, now an artist based in
Dublin, was dating Séamus for three years before he disappeared. From
the Isle of Wight, she was in Ireland training to be a silversmith when
she fell in love with the country and Séamus.
"He lived and breathed politics," she says. A schoolteacher from Newry, he was national organiser of the Irish Republican
Socialist Party (IRSP) – the INLA's political wing – and a key figure in the 1981 hunger-strike campaign. Two years earlier, he'd been arrested smuggling weapons across the Greek/Turkish border. He was acquitted of the charges.
In 1983, he left the IRSP, writing a deeply
critical resignation letter. "Séamus was an international
revolutionary," says his brother Terry. "He'd joined the IRSP because
he saw the Provos as right-wing Catholic holy joes. But he didn't like
where the IRSP/INLA was heading – it was a far cry from his ideals."
resigning, Séamus moved with Cecilia to Paris but they socialised with
IRSP figures living in the city. They'd have dinner occasionally.
Séamus secured a job teaching English at a private college, but
politics remained his passion. "He organised the other teachers into a
union," says Cecilia. He started an Irish Cultural Association. He held
Irish-language and dancing nights. He established a newsletter for
Irish people in Paris. He was also active in the campaign to support
the British miners' strike."
A close family
Séamus lived in France, the Ruddys remained a close family. "I even
made him a Christmas pudding and posted it to Paris," says Anne Morgan.
She met her brother a fortnight before he disappeared. A teacher in
Newry High School, she'd taken her pupils on a coach trip to Paris.
"The driver didn't know his way around so Séamus boarded the bus and
guided our tour.
"The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de
Triomphe, Notre Dame, we did it all. At night, he laughed at us trying
to eat frogs' legs. We spent a wonderful evening in a café on Rue
Saint-Denis. I treasure those photographs."
In May 1985,
Cecilia was working in Cork so Séamus was alone in Paris. He agreed to
meet three members of the INLA – chief-of-staff John O'Reilly, Peter
'Dunter' Stewart, and S – in a bar in Montparnasse. Séamus was nervous
about the meeting. He contacted M, one of the IRSP members he was
friendly with in Paris. M guaranteed his safety, according to the
In Cork, Cecilia started receiving concerned
telephone calls from friends saying they hadn't seen Séamus in days.
She returned to Paris. "A box of letters and two cameras were missing
from the apartment – they would have contained evidence of people
Séamus had met or communicated with," she says.
told her they'd seen M leaving the apartment. He had a key. She
wondered how he'd got it. "I went to see him. He was very guarded. I
said I was going to the police. He said he'd get somebody to talk to
me. He set up the Pompidou Centre meeting." After that, Cecilia
returned to Ireland and, with the Ruddys, kept trying to find the
truth. "It was hell," says Terry Ruddy. "We travelled the country
asking IRSP figures to meet us. An arrangement would be made, then
cancelled. They'd say the Brits were raiding houses or give some
'They told us we'd be killed'
the French police made contact to say children had found a black bag,
weighed down by stones, which had been washed up from the Seine. They
believed it contained Séamus's clothes. "John O'Reilly, whom we later
found out had shot Séamus, told us that if we travelled to France to
inspect the clothes, we'd be killed," says Anne Morgan.
went to Paris anyway. There was a jacket with two bullet holes in the
hood, blood-stained jeans and Doc Marten boots. She knew immediately
they were Séamus's. He'd been wearing those very clothes on their
evening on Rue Saint-Denis.
The situation deteriorated
further for the family. The INLA met them in the home of a west Belfast
priest. "We were told if we kept asking questions about Séamus, or
talking to the media, we'd be killed," says Anne Morgan. "I was
terrified for myself and my children. I'd look under the car for bombs
before I drove to school."
Terry Ruddy says: "I was
working in Dublin. Whenever a motorbike pulled up beside me in traffic,
I'd think somebody was going to shoot me." Only Cecilia wasn't afraid:
"I kept on at the IRSP. I must have written them hundreds of letters. I
was never frightened. They'd taken away the most important person in my
life, what else was there to lose?"
It was 1995 before
the INLA admitted killing Séamus. "We all knew Séamus was dead long
before then, except my mother," says Anne Morgan. "She put a chair by
the front window, where she had a good view of the street, and she sat
waiting for him to turn the corner. She waited every day for 10 years.
After they admitted killing him, she died within months."
murder was linked to an INLA power struggle. John O'Reilly wanted
access to all the movement's weapons dumps and arms smuggling routes to
strengthen his hand against a rival faction which later became the
IPLO. The Ruddys believe their brother's refusal to divulge this
information led to his murder.
Of his three killers, only
S is alive. O'Reilly was shot dead by the IPLO in 1987; Peter 'Dunter'
Stewart died of cancer. S, a west Belfast man, has served time in
Portlaoise prison and is now in jail in the North. He once faced a
murder charge in the Republic but was acquitted.
limited searches that have taken place for Séamus's body have been
based on S's information. Along with IRSP members, he has made several
trips to the forest at Pont de l'Arche, including one earlier this
year. The group received diplomatic immunity to prevent their arrest by
S said Séamus
had been buried in an INLA arms dump in the forest and then moved to a
second arms dump. The IRSP laid markers on trees to pinpoint the
location down to 10 square metres. Not only was Séamus's body not found
in the ensuing search, there was no forensic evidence to suggest an
arms dump was ever there.
The family wonders if S
deliberately lied about the location. "We've heard Séamus was tortured
before he was killed. S mightn't want the body found in order to hide
that," says Anne Morgan. She believes IRSP ard comhairle member Willie
Gallagher, who has liaised with her over the location of the body, has
been genuine in his attempts. He told the Sunday Tribune: "I will
neither condemn nor condone Séamus Ruddy's killing, but I view his
secret burial as disgusting and I will do as much to find his body as I
would if he was a member of my own family." The INLA is carrying out
another "internal review" into Séamus's murder and burial.
say it's possible that members of the French revolutionary group,
Action Directe, also have knowledge of the burial. Apart from S, a key
person with information is M, the IRSP member seen leaving Séamus's
flat in the days after he was murdered. M, who is now in his 60s, is
living in Dún Laoghaire. When asked if S and M still have associations
with the IRSP/INLA, Willie Gallagher refused to comment.
Every year on Séamus's birthday, Cecilia Moore visits the forest outside Pont de L'Arche.
"I found it hard to move on with life. It was difficult meeting new people. 'My boyfriend disappeared' is a conversation stopper. I met plenty of men over the years, but nobody ever replaced Séamus."