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Mother of missing Paul flies home to visit grim site of woodland remains

The mother of missing Tallaght man Paul Byrne has visited the site where her son's remains are believed to have been buried.

As Garda forensic experts continue to investigate remains found in West Wicklow, Mr Byrne's mother Ashley Dempsey has told of her torment.

Ms Dempsey had been away in Spain when news broke on Thursday of the grim discovery of a human skull near woodland in Ballyfolan, close to Blessington.


She organised a flight home as soon as she heard the news she had been waiting for since her son went missing in July last year.

"I only got to the search site yesterday, not that I could see much, but I just felt I had to be there," Ashley told the Herald.

A bracelet and set of keys, as well as clothing found at the scene, have been identified as belonging to Paul, who vanished after getting into a wine coloured Mitsubishi car outside his Kilmartin Green home on July 15 last year.

His family have long believed that he was murdered by local criminals. They are surprised Paul got into the car, even though he knew who was in it.

"No mother wants to hear that their son has been murdered, but the agony of not knowing where Paul disappeared to is too much," said Ashley.

"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 and put him in a proper place I can visit him."

Paul is presumed to have been murdered by a criminal gang despite the fact that he has no criminal record and was not known to be in any trouble.

Paul's partner, Martina McQuillan, had only found out she was pregnant with their second child in the weeks before he vanished.

She gave birth to their second daughter, Faith, a sister to Abbey, in February.

If the skull is Paul's, gardai will change the status of their investigation from that of missing person to murder.

"I'm feeling numb. I don't know what to feel," said Martina. "The T-shirt and bottoms they found -- the family has confirmed they are Paul's.

"The gardai are waiting for the State pathologist to do tests. They said it could be a few days, it could even be a few weeks."

Martina said the past year has been "a complete nightmare. I started eating again about a month ago. I don't sleep".

A garda spokesman said the skull and human remains had not yet been formally identified and searches of the wooded area were expected to continue over the next few days.

Ms McQuillan said the last time she saw Paul she had been in The Square in Tallaght and had brought him home a takeaway.


"He was standing outside on the road and I called him down to come in and get his McDonald's," she said.

"I called him again and he came in the second time. He went outside and he was standing at a car and I called him. He said to me, 'Martina, you just say you want me to mind Abbey because I don't want to go out'.

"So I said 'right' and I went out to get him then and he was gone."