Mother of missing Fiona says more digs planned
The mother of missing woman Fiona Pender says she has not given up hope of finding her daughter's remains and has made plans to hold a moving candlelit wake.
Josephine Pender said new information received by gardaí from an overseas source had "got her hopes up" that her 19-year search for answers would soon come to an end.
Mrs Pender (66), from Tullamore, said plans were under way to stage another search for her daughter, who disappeared exactly 19 years ago tomorrow, when she was pregnant and aged 25 years.
The renewed efforts to locate Fiona come in the same week that separate searches were under way for two other missing women. In Co Louth, detectives combed marshland near Dundalk where 17-year-old Ciara Breen went missing in February 1997. And in Co Wexford, the family of missing woman Fiona Sinnott began their own private dig.
Ms Sinnott has not been seen since disappearing from the home she shared with her 11-month-old child in 1998.
Last year, there was an extensive search of a section of forest in the Slieve Bloom mountains by gardaí and forensic specialists searching for Fiona Pender.
That dig turned up nothing, however, and now Mrs Pender says fresh searches are being prepared.
"Before Christmas, we had our hopes raised very much. I don't get my hopes raised and I said 'if we find her, great'.
"They were so sure this time - and not only me, a lot of people in the town and different areas were very disappointed because they were sure we'd get her. It wasn't to be," she said.
"There's another few places to be searched and we will get that done."
She also revealed she has planned how she would receive her daughter's body.
"I would bring her home to the house here and wake her for a few days.
"I have my candles, I'd have my nice bits of music playing. I have it planned and I hope to be able to do it," she said.
Fiona was last seen on August 23, 1996. She was living on Church Street in Tullamore and was seven months' pregnant.
"I know as time goes on there's less and less of poor Fiona and the baby to find, but to me I still believe if I find her I'm finding my Fiona and my grandchild," she told the 'Tullamore Tribune'.
Having also lost her husband Sean and son Mark, Mrs Pender is accompanied everywhere by her dog Missy who she said was "sent" to her by Fiona .
On the morning she went to collect the dog, a musical jewellery box mysteriously started to play, Mrs Pender said.
A commemorative walk for Fiona takes place tomorrow in Tullamore.