Madeleine's parents touched by support
McCanns hope their new book can help in search
IT is a nightmare they have been forced to accept as reality. But they still clutch a grain of hope -- it is all they have left.
Kate and Gerry McCann wore a haunted look as they spoke yesterday of the fractured life of their family since the disappearance of their beloved daughter Madeleine.
The support from Ireland has been "out of this world", Kate said yesterday, touched by the messages of love from this country.
"At least 50pc" of the mail they have received since the disappearance of their daughter has come from the Irish people, she revealed, saying that she wanted to say a "huge thank you" as it really had helped them.
Nearby, projected on to the walls of a Dublin hotel, was that familiar photograph, impossible to ignore, of the wide-eyed and innocent child with her distinctive tear-drop shaped pupil.
Madeleine McCann may well be one of the best-recognised children in the world -- but that fact hasn't helped to locate her and, four years later, the search goes on.
Her parents are here for a round of interviews to launch the book that Kate has written in the hope that it may help Madeleine to be located by raising crucial funds.
They also hope it will encourage people to get behind the search for the little girl who disappeared from their holiday apartment in Portugal one summer's night while the couple were at dinner at a nearby tapas bar.
They took the decision to write the book 'Madeleine' "with heavy hearts".
It was difficult to talk of the memories of Madeleine, and many times Kate had to get up and walk away from the computer, she admitted.
Meanwhile, back home in the UK, news channels are giving wall-to-wall coverage of British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to ask Scotland Yard to take up the investigation.
But the McCanns insist that this is not "bad timing" on their part and they have no desire to be anywhere but in Ireland.
"We wanted to come," said Gerry. But he admitted the announcement did come as a surprise, adding they had not been expecting to hear anything so soon.
Mr Cameron's commitment is a step in the right direction, they say, but they have yet to see the details of the investigation and what it will entail.
"We're not expecting anything to happen overnight," said Kate, with the despairing air of someone long past this point.
She no longer looks for her daughter on city streets or thinks that she might be "just around the corner".
Meanwhile, her husband dismissed criticism of the move as a "PR exercise" and that it would mean a waste of police resources, saying Mr Cameron had given the reassurance that it would not come out of the police budget.
One thing that has frustrated them in the past, Gerry admits, is the fact that the British police have "lots of information" on file but nobody is looking at it.
Stories emerging from the US of children turning up decades later give them hope and they have been told that the younger the age of the child taken means it is more likely that child has been taken to be kept, he explained.
In the meantime, the couple have been trying to get on with their lives, rearing their six-year-old twins -- and Madeleine is still very much part of the family.
They know their older sister was taken and that everyone is looking for her "very hard", accepting it as part of their lives.
In the playground, Sean and Amelie tell other children of their sister.
And any time the family go on a day out, they give the reminder: "But it's not really a family day out, Mummy, because Madeleine is not with us."
Gerry smiled, his voice trailing off sadly as he told of how Sean has a "sword", and really wants to be the one to find her.
The search will never stop, Kate was adamant.
"Our family isn't complete without Madeleine."