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Gardai to talk to dad of Aoife's unborn baby

GARDAI intend to interview a young man who had a brief relationship with missing childminder Aoife Phelan (30). The Herald understands that the highly respected local man -- who is understood to be abroad -- is the father of a child that Aoife is four months pregnant with.

The man, who is well known in local GAA circles, has not returned to Ireland from overseas where he was on a brief holiday.


It is understood he has been in communication with gardai and is expected home to Ballyroan, Co Laois, in the coming days.

The man is not suspected of any wrongdoing and officers still do not know if Aoife was the victim of foul play.

Gardai are still keeping an open mind on the mystery disappearance and they are conducting a number of detailed searches in Co Laois.

Yesterday, her mother Betty made an emotional plea, saying: "She's a very bubbly person and it is totally out of character for Aoife not to have been in contact with some of her family, so we are very, very concerned at the moment. Aoife, if you are out there somewhere, please contact us."

Aoife, one of 12 children, was fine before her disappearance, she added. "She was in good humour, no sign of distress or anything like that," Betty explained.

She said Aoife's family, in Ballyroan, just outside Portlaoise, were devastated.

"We are all over the place at the moment. We aren't sleeping, we are not eating and it's just unreal.

"You don't think it's going to hit your door, you know, you read about these things in the papers and your heart goes out to the families, but at the same time, you don't think it's going to happen to me ... we are just in limbo at the moment."

Speaking at a press conference to appeal for help in the search for missing Aoife, Superintendent Yvonne Lundon said that gardai echoed the family's concerns about Aoife's welfare.

Asked if the gardai had spoken to the father of Aoife's baby, Supt Lundon replied: "We are investigating all avenues in relation to information that is forthcoming and we have conducted a number of inquiries with a wide range of people who have come forward to us.

"We have conducted a number of searches and those searches are ongoing."

Aoife is described as around 5ft, 7ins tall, slim, with long blonde/sandy-coloured hair and blue eyes.

She was wearing jeans and a knitted jumper. She also has a red bomber-style jacket and was wearing a silver St Christopher medal and black Ugg-style boots.

Anyone who can assist in locating Aoife is asked to contact Portlaoise Garda Station on 057-8674100, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.