Clothing found in woods belongs to missing father
THE family of missing father-of-two Paul Byrne has confirmed that his T-shirt and trousers were found in woodland close to where the skull of an adult male was discovered last week. The remains have yet to be formally identified.
Gardai discovered the remains and several objects, which may have belonged to the deceased, yesterday when they resumed searching a wooded area in Ballyfolan, close to Blessington in Co Wicklow.
"I'm feeling numb. I don't know what to feel," Mr Byrne's partner, Martina McQuillan, told the Irish Independent last night.
"We've just been told they found a skull. The T-shirt and bottoms they found -- the family has confirmed they are Paul's.
"(The gardai) are waiting for Marie Cassidy (the State Pathologist) to do tests. They said it could be a few days, it could even be a few weeks," she added.
Ms McQuillan said the past year has been a "nightmare, a complete nightmare. I started eating again about a month ago. I don't sleep".
Ms McQuillan -- who had only found out she was pregnant with the couple's second child in the weeks before Mr Byrne vanished -- gave birth to their second daughter, Fayth, a sister to Abbey, in February.
Mr Byrne, who is from Tallaght, was last seen getting into a car outside his home on July 15 last year. His family fear he was murdered and his body hidden.
Several objects have been found at the scene, including a set of keys, a bracelet and tracksuit bottoms, which are expected to help the identification process.
A garda spokesman said the skull and human remains had not yet been formally identified and searches of the wooded area were expected to continue over the next few days.
Ms McQuillan said the last time she saw Paul she had been in The Square in Tallaght and had brought him home a takeaway.
"He was standing outside on the road and I called him down to come in and get his McDonald's," she said.
"I called him again and he came in the second time. He went outside and he was standing at a car and I called him. He said to me: 'Martina, you just say you want me to mind Abbey because I don't want to go out.'
"So I said 'right' and I went out to get him then and he was gone. That was the last time I saw him," she added.
Ms McQuillan said she misses "everything" about Paul and described him as "a nice person, a person I think everybody would get on with. He's a good person".
Her mother, Sharon McQuillan, told the Irish Independent: "It's been a nightmare. If it is Paul, it'll be closure, I know it's not a nice thing to say, after a year because there's other people out there missing longer than that.
"I'm not only worried for my daughter's health but I'm also worried for my son, Craig. He was very close to Paul. My motto now is to look after Martina and the girls and my other two lads," she added.
Garda dogs and technical units have been searching the area for several days following the discovery of a human skull by forestry workers.
The skull, which is estimated to belong to a male between the age of 18 and 50, has been sent to the State Laboratory for identification.
Gardai have sought the help of a forensic anthropologist to assist their investigation.