DNA tests will be conducted on suspected human remains found in a car recovered from a Fermanagh lake as part of the investigation into the disappearance of a Monaghan-based father of four 18 years ago.
Michael 'Tony' Lynch (54) vanished without trace on January 6, 2002, and no clue about what happened to him was found until an astonishing discovery last weekend, when two anglers noticed "an anomaly" in the Corradillar area of Upper Lough Erne, near Lisnaskea in Co Fermanagh.
Gardaí said PSNI divers, in a painstaking operation last Monday, recovered the white Mitsubishi Galant owned by Mr Lynch from the lake.
The car - with a registration TIL4670 - had vanished with Mr Lynch and gardaí always believed finding the vehicle held the key to discovering what happened to him.
It has now been confirmed PSNI experts found what are believed to be human remains during their careful examination of the interior of the silt-filled car. The partial remains are understood to have been found by the driver's seat.
A specialist pathologist will now conduct an examination of them.
It will initially be attempted to identify the remains via dental, clothing or personal possessions. However, if that roves impossible, DNA tests will be sought.
Medical records will also be made available to assist the PSNI experts with their work.
One PSNI source warned confirming the identity of the remains involved could take 10-14 days.
The Lynch family were briefed by gardaí on the discovery and were last night making no comment pending the result of pathology tests.
It is hoped the family's agonising 18-year wait for news of Mr Lynch's fate may be nearing an end.
Mr Lynch was last seen at 2pm on Sunday, January 6, 2002, calmly strolling down Fermanagh Street in Clones.
Just last year his wife, Angela, said all they wanted was to know what happened to him.
The family admitted that, over the years, they had come to accept he might not be alive. "I just want to find Tony for my children," she said in an RTÉ 'CrimeCall' appeal.
Her husband had been working in Cavan and was reported missing on January 9, when his family became concerned and realised he had not attended work the previous two days.
For work reasons, he had been using a flat in Clones for two months and, when searched, all his possessions had been left untouched.
"Every single thing he owned was in that flat. It was like he just went out to the shop and just didn't come back," Ms Lynch said.
"I just want to find Tony for my children. They loved him very much. They will always look for their daddy, just like I want to find my husband."
Gardaí will liaise with the PSNI over the pathology and identification procedures.