Thursday 24 October 2019

Sex offender arrested for alleged kidnapping of missing girl Mary Boyle (6) 37 years ago

Denise Calnan and Mark O'Regan

The mother of a little girl who vanished 37 years ago says her daughter has never been out of her mind.

Mary Boyle's mother Ann Boyle said life has been hell since her six-year-old daughter went missing.

A convicted sex offender in his 60s is being questioned by gardai over her disappearance in Co Donegal in March 1977.

"I'm absolutely delighted that someone has been arrested, and my greatest wish now is that Mary is found," Mrs Boyle told

Mary Boyle
Mary Boyle

"I want to find out before I die what happened my little girl; that means absolutely everything to me."

She added: "This person has been arrested in connection with the case, but whether he admits to it is another thing entirely.

"The last 37 years have been hell on earth. That's how I'd sum up what all the family have gone through."

Mrs Boyle spoke out following the arrest of a man in his 60s today on suspicion of kidnapping.

Read more here: The anguished wait for the Irish families of missing children

It is understood the suspect in from Co Donegal and has several convictions for sexual abuse going back to the 1960s. He is believed to be currently serving a sentence for indecent assault.

The youngster went missing from near her grandparents’ home in Cashelard, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on 18 March 1977. She was six years old at the time.

All searches in the meantime for the missing child have proved fruitless.

Assistant Commissioner for the Garda's Northern Region Kieran Kenny, said they believe the breakthrough has brought them one step closer to recovering where she is located.

As well as the investigation at the time, there have been two reviews by An Garda Siochana into Mary's disappearance.

He told a media briefing this afternoon that the arrest is directly related to new evidence arising from the latest review carried out in 2011.

"We have used all the materials we gathered from the initial investigation that happened at the time of the disappearance," he said.

"There was also a review conducted in the early 2000s, and we have used the materials from that as part of our inquiries."

Read more here: From the archives - Cold case report on missing Mary (6) due shortly

The suspect was arrested at midday at a location in the Midlands. The man has been detained for up to 24 hours of questioning in Mullingar Station under the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

The Assistant Commissioner said a review of the case has been ongoing in the Northern region for a number of years.

A "dedicated team" of investigators, comprising between six and twelve officers, along with the expertise of forensic and geology experts, have been working on the case.

It is the first arrest in connection with the case.

A Family Liaison Office has continuously updated Mary’s mother Ann Boyle on the developments in the case, including today’s arrest.

Read more here: From the archives - Search to resume for body of girl missing since 1977

"We are appealing for anyone with any information on the circumstances around Mary's disappearance to contact us,” the assistant commissioner continued.

“Even something that people may have thought was insignificant at the time could help us advance the continuing investigation."

Read more here: Two little girls - one was murdered by persons unknown, the other vanished without a trace

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Incident Room at Ballyshannon Garda Station at 071 9858530 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

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