Belfast Telegraph

Son's hope for 'closure' as Garda resumes search for Northern Ireland man missing since 2002

Tony Lynch, who went missing in 2002
Tony Lynch, who went missing in 2002
Tony Lynch's son Peter
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The son of a Co Fermanagh man last seen 18 years ago has said his family will not give up hope as fresh searches for his body continue.

Michael Anthony Lynch, known as Tony, was last seen on January 6, 2002, in the Co Monaghan town of Clones.

The 54-year-old father-of-four had moved from Magheraveely in Co Fermanagh to a flat in Clones two months previously for work.

His car, a white Mitsubishi Galant with the registration TIL 4670, has never been located.

Garda launched a new search this week in cooperation with the PSNI - made possible by advancements in drone and sonar technology - at Gortnawinney Lough near Clones to establish if the car was under the water.

Up to 16 loughs in the area are to be searched, with the possibility of more searches in Co Fermanagh.

On Thursday the search moved 10 miles away to Drum Lough, and then to the nearby Long Lough.

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Mr Lynch's son Peter was 10 years old when his father went missing.

He told the Belfast Telegraph of the family's hope for some measure of closure after all these years.

"We're very appreciative of the efforts this week," he said.

Tony Lynch's wife Angela
Tony Lynch's wife Angela

"There's been a couple of things that have happened down through the years with leads, so we try not to get too emotionally involved, but we do have some hope.

"Probably more so this time, because deep down I think that is where he is.

"It just makes sense, a car can't just disappear.

"So it's great they can do this search with the new technology because, really, it's just not possible by only using divers."

Asked if he felt comforted that police had not forgotten the family, he said: "I was surprised when the search started again, but we're happy to see it.

"There probably wasn't a lot done on their part in recent years, but we're very grateful for the help now."

Asked what success would mean for the family, he said: "It would be great to get closure of it, it would be brilliant. I don't even know how to describe it, it would just be an end to it, with maybe a grave to go to." Remembering his father, he added: "To be fair, I was only 10 when he went missing, so my memories aren't that great. But he was always good to us, we had a normal childhood until he went missing.

"He used to bring me to work with him at the weekends and when I was off school.

"It's been tough, especially coming up around this time of year for my mother (Angela). We were small when it happened, so we didn't really understand what was going on until a couple of years later.

"We probably thought he was going to come back. For myself, it wasn't until I got older that I really understood."

Looking forward, Mr Lynch said he understood the next search was to take place on January 11 and continue throughout 2020.

The family have set up a Tony Lynch Facebook page to encourage anyone with relevant information to get in touch.

The Garda has also asked to speak to anyone who may have seen Mr Lynch's car on the day he was last sighted or any landowners who may have noticed a car abandoned on lands or submerged in waters.

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