THE mother of a girl who went missing 37 years ago wants to find out what happened to her daughter before she dies.
A convicted sex offender was last night being questioned about the disappearance of Mary Boyle, who was aged six when she was last seen alive in 1977. He was arrested in the Midlands Prison yesterday.
Mary's mother, Ann Boyle, said her missing daughter has never been out of her mind.
"I'm absolutely delighted that someone has been arrested and my greatest wish now is that Mary is found," she told the Herald.
"I want to find out before I die what happened my little girl; that means absolutely everything to me."
The suspect is due for release from jail next month. He is serving a sentence for sexually abusing two boys in the years before Mary went missing from near her grandparents' home in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, on March 18, 1977.
The reclusive suspect was still being questioned by detectives at Mullingar Garda Station in Co Westmeath last night.
Sources said that his strong links to the Ballyshannon area in the 1970s have been probed by a review team based in the gardai's northern region for many months now.
He is expected to be released without charge this morning and sent back to jail to complete the remaining weeks of his sentence.
Mary, from Belcruit, Kincasslagh, Co Donegal, was on a family visit to her grandparents' home accompanied by her parents and siblings when she disappeared.
She had followed her uncle Gerry across a peat bog and was told to return home. But, even though it was only a few minutes' walk, she never arrived. A massive search was launched but no body was ever found. A car spotted nearby was never traced.
"The last 37 years have been hell on earth. That's how I'd sum up what all the family have gone through," Ms Boyle said.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Kieran Kenny said officers are appealing for anyone with any information on the circumstances around Mary's disappearance to contact us.
"Even something that people may have thought was insignificant at the time could help us advance the continuing investigation."
As part of the review of the Mary Boyle case, witness statements taken during the years were re-examined as well as internal garda reports on the investigation.
Mary is remembered every year on her anniversary by her widowed mother Ann and her identical twin, also called Ann.