Saturday 18 November 2017

Gardai search bog in hunt for missing teenager Ciara

Gardai search bogland near Dundalk for Ciara Breen who went missing in 1997
Gardai search bogland near Dundalk for Ciara Breen who went missing in 1997

Teams of forensic gardai waded through marshland in Co Louth in the search for missing Ciara Breen, who disappeared two decades ago.

Forensic archeologists, garda divers, and specialist search teams searched the 16 acres of Balmer's Bog near Dundalk town centre in the hunt for the 17-year-old, who went missing over 18-years ago.

She disappeared from her home at Bachelor's Walk in the town in the early hours of February 13, 1997.

The search got underway shortly after 10am on Tuesday morning, in an area which is just a short distance from Dundalk Garda Station.


Gardai last night said they were hopeful of a result after a tip-off from a member of the public directed them to the site.

"We are obviously taking this very seriously," a senior source told the Herald. "This is an extensive operation, but we are focusing on a specific area. It is a definite line of enquiry that we believe may turn something up."

Lead investigating detective Pat Marry said that the area was particularly difficult to search.

"It is a mammoth task, the area is quite extensive and overgrown, it is not going to be easy," he said.

Mr Marry added that the search would centre around a specific portion of the 16-acre plot that is owned by a number of different companies and individuals.

"We have warrants to cover the entire site if needs be," he added.

The development comes after gardai,­ investigating the young woman's disappearance, renewed their appeal for information last year.

It's believed two people came forward following the appeal with separate historic sightings on the night Ciara went missing.

A TV appeal on RTE's Crime Call programme last December also encouraged others to come forward.

Two anonymous letters were received following the campaign. A man in his 50s was arrested in Dundalk in April and was taken to Drogheda Garda Station for questioning.

He was later released without charge, with a file being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Ciara was last seen by her mother Bernadette at their home who explained at the time they had both gone to bed just after midnight after spending the evening together at an Italian restaurant in Dundalk.

"I got up at 2am to go to the toilet, and I looked in her bedroom and she wasn't there," she said at the time.

"She didn't take any money or clothes with her.

"It is as if she went to meet somebody and did not get back."

It is understood Ciara may have been in a relationship with an older man and had sneaked out of a window to meet him.

Ciara's case is a part of Operation Trace, which was established in 1998 to determine if there were any links between a number of instances of missing women in the Leinster region.

Other cases examined include the disappearances of Deirdre Jacob, Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dollard, Fiona Sinnott, Fiona Pender and Eva Brennan.

So far, there has been no connection found between the missing women and none of the women's remains have been discovered.

Nobody has been charged with any crime in relation to their disappearances.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Dundalk Garda Station at (042) 9388400, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

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