AN IRISH family has been instrumental in identifying the man police believe to be the main suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance.Martin Smith was holidaying with his wife Mary, children Aoife and Peter, and other family members, in the resort of Praia da Luz, Portugal, when Maddie vanished six years ago.
Detectives will travel to Ireland as part of the probe because of the popularity of the resort with Irish holidaymakers.
They have issued two images of a man they urgently want to trace as part of the investigation.
The e-fit pictures, showing a white male, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, were compiled by two members of the Smith family who both spotted him in the resort of Praia da Luz on the evening the three-year-old disappeared.
While the two pictures appear to show a person with slightly different features, detectives are convinced it is the same person they are seeking.
Mr Smith said the girl was three or four years-old and in a deep sleep and the man was carrying her along a deserted side street.
The Irishman and his children gave discriptions to Portuguese police two days later but no e-fits or sketches were produced.
The new images will be broadcast tonight on the BBC's 'Crimewatch' programme as part of a renewed international appeal.
Madeleine disappeared on the evening of May 3, 2007, as she slept in her family's holiday apartment on the Algarve with her younger twin brother and sister.
Her parents were dining a short distance away with a group of friends at a Tapas restaurant within the resort's complex and realised she was missing when they checked on her at around 10pm.
Detectives from Scotland Yard, who have been leading a fresh investigation into Madeleine's abduction, will also use tonight's programme to reveal significant new thinking around the timeline of the events leading up to her disappearance.
They will also travel to Ireland, Holland, and Germany to ask for help, given the Portuguese resort's popularity as a holiday destination.
A detailed reconstruction of the McCann family's movements on the afternoon and evening of May 3, 2007, will be broadcast in the hope of jogging someone's memory and unlocking a crucial clue.
More than 440 witnesses have been spoken to by officers, who have spent two years reviewing all the evidence collected by Portuguese police and private detectives.
As well as identifying 41 "persons of interest", the Scotland Yard inquiry – dubbed Operation Grange - has thrown up a number of potential suspects who witnesses have been able to describe in detail.
A spokesman for the Operation Grange team said detectives now had a far more detailed understanding of the times when an abduction could have taken place and this had given the statements from two witnesses particular significance.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, the senior investigating officer, said: "Today I am asking the public for their help. Whilst this man may or may not be the key to unlocking this investigation, tracing and speaking to him is of vital importance to us.
"We have witnesses placing him in the resort area around the time of Madeleine's disappearance. This is far from our only line of inquiry and there will be e-fits released of other sightings as well, who we are equally keen to trace.
"These people were seen on the day of Madeleine's disappearance and the days leading up to it."
The Portuguese authorities shelved their investigation into Madeleine's disappearance in July 2008, forcing her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, to employ teams of private detectives to continue the hunt.
But in May 2011, four years after her disappearance, British Home Secretary, Theresa May, with the backing of Prime Minster David Cameron, ordered Scotland Yard to begin a review of all the evidence.
Earlier this summer, the Metropolitan Police announced the review was being turned into a formal investigation with more than 30 detectives and police staff working on the case full time.
After months of careful negotiations, their counterparts in Portugal, the Policia Judiciaria, agreed to co-operate and there are now six dedicated officers based in Faro on the Algarve.
The e-fit images are seen as a significant step forward in the investigation, but it is hoped the Crimewatch reconstruction will also throw up some fresh lines of inquiry, despite the passage of time.
The appeals will also be broadcast in Germany and Holland where many of the tourists staying in Praia da Luz at the time were from. DCI Redwood explained: "Where we have been able to make massive steps forward is by drawing together all the material gathered to date, and reviewing it as a whole.
"We continue to put Madeleine at the heart of our investigation and I would urge people to watch Crimewatch tonight and if you can help identify this man or have any information about our new appeal points, please contact us.
A full reconstruction lasting 25 minutes will feature in the programme, which airs tonight at 9pm.
During the programme, the McCanns are asked how often they think of their daughter.
Mr McCann says: "When it's a special occasion, when you should be your happiest and Madeleine's not there, that's when it really hits home.
"Obviously, Madeleine's birthday goes without saying."
Mrs McCann adds: "It's when you have big family occasions really. That's it isn't it? 'Family occasion' and you haven't got your complete family."
Kate adds: "We are not the ones that have done something wrong here. It's the person who's gone into that apartment and taken a little girl away from her family."