Belfast Telegraph

Nanny's family hailed as body found

The devastated family of murdered nanny Aoife Phelan have been praised for their strength and courage after a body was found buried in a yard.

The grim discovery was made by gardai as they forensically examined a site at the back of a house on the outskirts of Portlaoise, Co Laois.

Ms Phelan, 30, vanished almost two weeks ago after meeting a friend. A Garda spokesman confirmed a man in his 20s has been arrested as part of the murder investigation.

Parish priest Fr Gerard Ahern said Ms Phelan's disappearance had shocked her close-knit community in Cashel in the village of Ballyroan.

"It's very sombre. It's just amazing the effect it has had, there's a very gloomy feeling about," he said.

"But at least a body has been found. While it's not what we would have hoped for, it's some comfort to the family that they will have Aoife home.

"They have shown great strength and courage in the face of this. They have been exceptional and have had great support from family and the community."

The dead woman's grief-stricken family - parents Michael and Betty and their 11 other children - held a candlelight vigil last Friday in the town, where they prayed for her safe return.

But gardai upgraded her disappearance to murder and a suspect was arrested on Monday.

Forensic experts moved into the site off Timahoe Road and used a mini-digger and shovels to excavate ground at the rear of the white two-storey property.

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