Upset family of missing man mentioned in Dáil 'are realistic - we just want to get Pat's body back'
The family of a man who has been missing for more than four years have said it was upsetting to hear his name read out in the Dáil among allegations of Garda misconduct.
Patrick Heeran was 48 years old when he vanished from his home at Aughavas, Co Leitrim, in October 2011.
It has been alleged by two local gardaí investigating his disappearance that senior management failed to protect them from a suspect in the case.
Both gardaí claim that senior management failed to inform them about a serious threat to their safety because the criminal targeting them was allegedly working as an 'off-the-books' informant.
Similar claims were put to the Dáil this week by Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny, who said Mr Heeran had issues with substance addiction.
"When local gardaí arrived at the home of Mr Heeran to check into the report that he was missing, they considered the possibility of something sinister and wanted to have the house sealed off as a possible crime scene.
"However, senior gardaí dismissed this possibility and told them to make the usual inquiries and that he would turn up drunk somewhere.
"After some time, when Garda management finally agreed to seal off and examine the house, they found it had been burgled in the meantime and was therefore forensically violated for the purposes of evidence-gathering."
Mr Heeran's cousin, Damien Brennan, said the family had resigned themselves to the fact he was unlikely to be found alive.
However, he said it was difficult to hear his cousin's name being mentioned in the Dáil.
"We are realistic enough to know that it has been a long time and in those circumstances the main ambition would be to get his body back, so we can bring closure to the situation.
"The priority of the family is to get Pat back. It has gone on now for a long period of time and the hopes of Pat being alive have waned.
"An episode like Thursday brings the whole lot back for the family and makes it extremely difficult for them.
"It is not easy for the family to have to deal with that.
"Because of the fact that he is missing in such circumstances and because of the fact it is going on so long with no conclusion to it, obviously the focus of a story in the public domain brings back the memories of what happened."