Gardai are to begin excavating a wooded area in a south county Dublin golf club today as part of their search for a schoolboy who disappeared almost 23 years ago.
The case of 13-year-old Philip Cairns has baffled detectives since he vanished on his way back to school from his home in Rathfarnham on October 23, 1986.
The new search is the result of fresh information supplied by an elderly woman that she remembered seeing freshly dug earth in the wooded area at Grange golf club around the time Philip disappeared.
Senior officers assessed the information and decided to carry out a full search with the assistance of specialist equipment used to determine soil movements and a team of geophysicists. But detectives were cautious last night about the prospects of a positive outcome.
The area, now hugely overgrown, was sealed off yesterday as gardai began clearing the ground in preparation for a detailed examination by the specialists and forensic officers.
Philip was last seen alive at Ballyroan Road in Rathfarnham.
He left Colaiste Eanna secondary school at 12.45pm to go home for lunch and began the walk back at 1.30pm.
He was not seen again and a week later his schoolbag was found in a laneway near the school. The bag contained some of his books but his geography book and two religion books were missing.
In October 2007, the Irish Crimestoppers Trust offered a €10,000 reward for information on Philip's disappearance and a number of new leads were followed up. Gardai said last night that the information about the land at the golf club was one of a number of theories being pursued.
The operation is expected to continue for a number of days and gardai have again appealed to anyone who thinks they could help the investigation to contact the Rathfarnham team at 01 6666500.