Family fear for missing pregnant woman, 31
Gardai issue appeal for help in tracking 'happy, bubbly Aoife'
Gardai are searching for a pregnant 31-year-old Co Laois woman who went missing last Thursday evening and has made no contact with her family or friends since.
Aoife Phelan, who lives with her parents in Portlaoise, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Collier's Lane in the town at 8.10pm that night.
Investigations by gardai discovered that her mobile phone was last tracked to a transmitting mast in Mountmellick about an hour after she went missing. Her sister, Leanne Roche, said yesterday that Aoife had friends in Mountmellick but had not made contact with them.
Ms Roche said her family became very worried on Friday morning as, she said: "Aoife is a family person. It was my son's fifth birthday on Friday and Aoife would have sent a text at one minute past midnight to say happy birthday. She is that type of person and very close to all of us."
She added: "Aoife is four months pregnant. She is a happy, bubbly single person. She was supposed to babysit for friends on Friday morning and we became concerned when we heard she had not turned up and the people were worried as she has never let them down.
"We have heard nothing, nothing at all. My parents became very concerned on Friday morning and we contacted the Gardai. They have been very active and we have been told her phone was last tracked from a signal in Mountmellick. Her phone was switched off at around 9pm.
"We reported her missing because it is so out of character. She is a family person and she has her set routines.
"She was due to collect her dole at the post office in Portlaoise on Friday but it has not been collected yet. We really don't know what is going on. We are hoping for the best and we are keeping as positive as we can.
"She was with friends on Thursday evening and there was nothing out of the ordinary. She left [the house in Collier's Lane] at 8.10pm and that is the last we have heard.
"We hope that somebody knows something about her whereabouts. She is just not the kind of person that would go away without contacting her family. It is completely out of character."
Ms Roche said her sister was happy about her pregnancy and looking forward to having her child.
Aoife is one of a family of 12 and had been still living with her parents, Betty and Mick, at the family home in Cashel, Ballyroan, about five miles south of Portlaoise.
Her mobile phone appears to have travelled northwards to Mountmellick away from the family home. The family believe Aoife arranged to get a lift home on Thursday evening to Ballyroan but did not take up the offer and disappeared.
The Garda Press Office yesterday confirmed gardai in Portlaoise had received a missing persons report and were investigating.
Gardai and Aoife's family have appealed to anyone with information to contact gardai at Portlaoise on 057 8674100.
The family and Aoife's friends have also printed posters and have been using social media websites to appeal for information.