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Mary Boyle case: Gardai commence search in Donegal bog for missing girl (6)

By Catherine Devine

Published 15/07/2016

Mary Boyle, who vanished in 1977. Her twin, Ann Doherty, says she believes Mary is dead and claims to know who killed her
Mary Boyle, who vanished in 1977. Her twin, Ann Doherty, says she believes Mary is dead and claims to know who killed her

Gardai investigating the 1977 disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle have commenced a search in a Donegal bog.

Gardai confirmed that the area was previously searched but is now being drained.

It was announced earlier this week that a fresh investigation into the disappearance of Mary Boyle would be launched with all evidence and suspects to be re-examined.

The gardai said that the new cold case team would have no pre-conceived ideas of who was or wasn’t a suspect and that all evidence would be followed.

PJ Coughlan, the fisherman who alerted gardai that Mary Boyle was first missing, said he believes the six-year-old was snatched by a red car but that gardai failed to take note of his statement because they already had a suspect.

Coughlan said he saw a red Volkswagen Beetle speeding away from the area that Mary went missing ten minutes before he saw Mary’s uncle Gerry frantically searching for her.

“I believe I saw her being driven away in a car. There’s no doubt in my mind she was lifted,” he told the Irish Daily Star.

After a documentary into the investigation earlier this month called Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, there were claims of political interference by two former gardai involved in the case.

Retired sergeant Martin Collins claimed a political figure rang gardai at the height of the probe and said:

“The gist was that none of a particular family should be made suspect for Mary’s interference.”

Former detective Aidan Murray told the documentary he believed he was close to getting a suspect to confess to murdering Mary but was told to “ease-off” on the suspect by a senior officer.

Mary’s twin sister Ann said she believes Mary was being sexually abused and was killed to cover "the secret".

Six-year-old Mary Boyle had been at her grandparents' house in Cashelard, a remote and boggy townland outside Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch. Her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, was the last person to see her alive after she walked back to her grandparent’s house but never made it there.

Gardai, family and scores of neighbours scoured the 450-yard stretch of land between the only two houses in the area, in a search that escalated over the following weeks into a trawl of bog holes, lakes, streams and the countryside beyond. Not a trace of Mary was ever found.

Irish Independent

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