MORE than two decades after 13-year-old Dublin schoolboy Philip Cairns went missing, a €10,000 reward has been offered to help solve the riddle of his disappearance.
It is 21 years since the young student left his home on Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, to return to school -- a journey he never completed.
Despite extensive searches and nationwide appeals for help -- including a huge campaign by residents' organisation ACRA -- there has been no trace of him since.
As a reconstruction of Philip's last-known movements were featured on last night's 'Crimeline' programme, the Irish Crimestoppers Trust, offered a €10,000 reward as part of a special campaign to help gardai try and discover what happened to him.
The boy's father, also Philip, said he hoped the reward might provide them with answers. Mr Cairns admitted yesterday that even after all this time, he still found the situation very difficult.
"I just hope something comes of it and that it throws some light on it," he told the Irish Independent.
Philip was last seen on the Ballyroan Road, Rathfarnham, on Thursday, October 23, 1986. He had come home for lunch from his school, Colaiste Eanna, and left the house at 1.30pm to walk back to school, but he never arrived.
Further mystery was added to his disappearance when his school bag was found the following week in a nearby laneway. Some of his books were missing, including his geography textbook and two religion books.
"Gardai are confident that someone knows what happened to Philip," said Irish Crimestoppers spokeswoman Paula Eager. "Perhaps you are aware of someone acting suspiciously around the time?"
Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers free on 1800 25 00 25 or gardai in Rathfarnham, (01) 6666500.