The family of a doctor who went missing ten years ago have questioned a garda decision to undertake a search for her remains.
Deirdre Donnelly O'Flaherty has not been seen since January 11th 2009, when her car was found at Kinnego beach, Co Donegal.
A search for her remains was undertaken by gardai earlier this week in Milford Co Donegal, some 80km from where she was last seen.
The dig concluded on Friday with gardai confirming no new evidence had been found.
In a statement issued this morning, her family questioned the decision and the way in which it was communicated to them.
"The close and extended families of Dr Deirdre Donnelly O’Flaherty wish to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many kind and thoughtful messages of support which they have received over the course of what has been a tumultuous and distressing week leading up to the 10th anniversary of Deirdre’s disappearance on the 11th of January 2009.
"The families are relieved only because this ordeal is over although in our view, the outcome was not in doubt.
"Notification that Gardai were going to carry out a land search for Deirdre was entirely unexpected, not least given that the finding by Order of Judge Deeney at Belfast High Court on the 12th of January 2012 that Deirdre had “gone into the water and drowned” was supported by the oral evidence of the investigating Garda Sergeant. As far as the families are aware there has not in fact been any ongoing search for Deirdre since at least that time.
"The families had only three days advance notice of the Gardai excavations near Milford, County Donegal and therefore had little time to prepare for the consequences of the very public, national exposure of this story during the week.
"Gardai confirmed to the families at that time that the decision to conduct the excavation in a remote area over fifty miles from her last known whereabouts flowed from an anonymous note handed in to a Garda station in County Monaghan in August 2017. This note apparently provided precise map co-ordinates for the location of Deirdre’s remains.
"The families have not seen this note and this information was not made public due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. In their Press Release yesterday Gardai stated that they had 'found nothing to further the search'.
"Accordingly, the families have requested a meeting with the Gardai investigation team to discuss a number of questions relating to the conduct, conclusions and consequences of this investigation."