Remains believed to be of missing 21-year-old father
GARDAI believe the skeletal remains found in a wooded area are those of a father of two who vanished a year ago.
Investigators think the remains are likely to be those of Paul Byrne (21), who was last seen alive at Kilmartin Green, Tallaght, Dublin 24, on July 15 last year.
Members of Mr Byrne's family were at the search site yesterday at Ballyfolan, near Manor Kilbride, in west Wicklow, which is about 11km from Blessington.
The search was started at lunchtime on Thursday when workmen clearing a wooded area found a human skull.
The area was immediately sealed off and State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy was notified.
During a resumed search yesterday more bones and items of clothing were found and taken away for forensic examination.
Dr Cassidy has been joined by a forensic anthropologist in an attempt to identify the remains.
Senior garda officers believe that part of the remains have been disturbed and are likely to be located in an expanded area.
Paul Byrne's partner, Martina McQuillan, gave birth to their second daughter Faith in February.
Mr Byrne disappeared after two men called to his house and he got into their wine-coloured Mitsubishi Carisma.
His mother Ashley Dempsey said she had been contacted by the gardai on Thursday night.
She said that no mother wanted to hear that her son had been murdered but the agony of not knowing what had happened to Paul was too much.
"I have prayed so much for the return of his body that I hope it is Paul and I can at least give him a proper funeral. I just hope this puts an end to it now for me," she said.
At the time of his disappearance Ms Dempsey had issued an appeal for help in finding him as she said she was extremely worried for his safety.
"He wouldn't do anything like this. It's just so out of character."
Gardai later investigated local reports that some of his acquaintances had been involved in a group that was in a dispute with a rival gang in the area.
There are fears Mr Byrne could have been singled out by the rivals because of his association with members of the group although he was not involved in the row.
Some of those acquaintances had been interviewed by gardai in relation to a serious incident in the Tallaght area.
After Mr Byrne's disappearance, a number of witnesses claimed he had been seen in a car being driven towards Lucan.
His family were alerted in early February that a human skull and part of a torso had been discovered on the Military Road, near Rathfarnham, in the Dublin mountains.
But the remains turned out to be those of Ken Fetherston, another Tallaght father, who had been missing since September. He had been murdered.