THE body found in a remote Co Wicklow wood two months ago has finally been positively identified as that of missing Tallaght dad Paul Byrne.
A murder hunt has now been launched by gardai investigating the disappearance and death of the 20-year-old.
He was last seen on July 15 last year when he got into a wine-coloured Mitsubishi car outside his home in Kilmartin Green, never to be seen again.
His partner Martina McQuillan had only found out she was pregnant with their second child in the weeks before Paul went missing, and she gave birth to their second daughter, Faith, in February.
Speaking to the Herald today, Paul's mother Ashley Dempsey said the sad news was broken to her by gardai who called to her home last night.
"It's a relief more than anything else to be honest. I've been waiting for this news for so long now," said Ms Dempsey.
"I knew from very early after Paul went missing that he had probably been killed, and when the body was found in Blessington in July all the evidence was that it was Paul's," she added.
However, Ashley has had to endure a long and painful two-month wait for the bones to be positively identified as those of her son.
"It took so long, I don't know why, but at least I can organise a funeral for Paul now and he can be somewhere we can visit him, in a proper grave," Ashley explained.
The bones were found by forest workers at Ballyfolan, near Manor Kilbride, in west Wicklow on July 29.
The grim discovery was made by the forest workers clearing land.
A search of the area then yielded a bracelet and keys thought to be Paul's.
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.
Sources close to the family say they are surprised Paul got into the car, even though he knew who was in it.
He had been seen talking to the occupants of the car outside his home, having told his partner Martina before he went out to call him in because he did not want to meet the men.
But when Martina went to call him the car and Paul were gone.
In January this year a group claiming to be the Real IRA phoned the Herald with a warning of "swift and resolute action" against the alleged killers of Paul unless his body was returned to his family.
The callers claimed to know who killed Byrne and threatened revenge.
"We call for the immediate return of the body of Paul Byrne who was senselessly murdered by criminal elements," said the statement to this paper.