GARDAI investigating the murder of a retired detective garda are now digging for the body of a former friend in his back garden.
Officers think the remains of missing Gerry Daly may be concealed under concrete laid shortly after his disappearance almost two years ago.
The dig is ongoing at the rear of the home of 48-year-old former detective John Kerins, who had been questioned by gardai in the past about Daly's disappearance and is now thought to have played a role in his death. Mr Kerins was shot dead in November last year.
A specialist team has been called to carry out the search on the Co Cavan property, which is likely to last up to three days.
Gardai said Mr Kerins had laid the concrete patio in the back garden around the time that Mr Daly went missing. Mr Daly's brother, Mark, and his wife, Karen, travelled from Dublin to visit the search scene yesterday afternoon after being briefed on the latest developments by gardai at Bailieborough station.
As two diggers continued to excavate the ground behind Mr Kerins's house until late evening, the Dalys stayed there for more than an hour watching the machinery.
Before he left, Mark Daly told the Irish Independent: "We don't know anything. We got a phone call this morning to say they were digging.
Cornaveagh, Co Cavan, is about 7km from Bailieborough
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"At this moment," he added, "we're just hoping for some sort of closure and to give him a proper burial."
He said he would be returning today when the search resumes.
Mr Kerins and Mr Daly had been close friends in the past and shared an interest in dog breeding but were then thought to have fallen out over a business deal involving a third man.
Meanwhile, gardai investigating the murder of Mr Kerins arrested two men from east Cavan in connection with his shooting.
The suspects, both in their 30s, were being held last night at Carrickmacross garda station under anti-gang legislation, which allows gardai to hold the men without charge for up to seven days.
Mr Kerins was hit by two shotgun blasts in the face and chest last November as he lay on the couch of his home in the rural townland of Cornaveagh, about seven kilometres from Bailieborough and off the main road to Cootehill in Co Cavan.
He was estranged from his wife and their three children and lived alone in the house.
Gardai found the body shortly before midday on November 9 last but he was thought to have been murdered the previous evening. There was no sign of a forced entry.
Detectives had been actively tackling criminals involved in drugs trafficking in the Bailieborough area in the months prior to the murder.
Both Mr Kerins and Mr Daly were friendly with a group of men who were suspected of being involved in a crime gang with links to other criminals based in various parts of Dublin.
These included known drug traffickers and a dissident republican, who had come to garda notice previously.
Mr Daly, who would have celebrated his 44th birthday around the time that Mr Kerins was shot dead, had moved house from Tallaght in south Dublin to Cornaveagh, where he lived four doors down from the former garda.
He has not been seen since June 2011. Initially, the garda investigation into his disappearance was treated as a missing person's case, but was later upgraded to a murder probe. Their inquiries extended from the border region and Dublin to England, Jersey and Malta.
Last night Gerry Daly's family posted a message on a social media site about the ongoing search. "This has been a very long day for our family. We would like to thank all of you, our family and friends, for your continued support. We will continue our search for Gerard and will pray for the best outcome."