Northern Ireland news

Search of wooded area for missing Saoirse Smyth

Saoirse Smyth who has been missing since April 2017.

GARDAÍ began searching a wooded area in Omeath IN Co Louth yesterday where they believe the remains of murdered west Belfast woman Saoirse Smyth may have been secretly buried.

The 28-year-old disappeared in April 2017. The PSNI announced in July 2018 that the case was being upgraded to a murder investigation.

A 40-year-old man was arrested by the PSNI in Newry last year on suspicion of Saoirse's murder and released pending further investigation.

Specialist cadaver dogs are involved in the search of a remote wooded area in Co Louth close to the border.

Detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), supported by the Louth Divisional Search Team, Garda Technical Bureau a forensic archaeologist and investigators from the PSNI are also assisting with the search.

Gardai officers previously assisted detectives from Northern Ireland in carrying out an examination of a house in Omeath in July 2018 where it is believed Saoirse may have been living prior to her murder.

Specialist forensic teams were called in to search for traces of blood and other DNA with police believing she may have been killed at the property and her body taken elsewhere.

The house was rented as a holiday home to various visitors and the owner has no connection to the investigation.

Saoirse's family have been informed about the latest search and PSNI family liaison officers are supporting them through the process.

Senior Investigating Officer in the case Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney said: "Enquires have led us to believe that she has been murdered and we have been working closely with our colleagues in An Garda Síochána to get answers for her family.

"Saoirse was last seen in the Belfast area on April 1, 2017 and I believe she returned to Omeath, where she was living at the time, later that day.

"Since her disappearance there has been no contact with family or friends which is highly unusual.

"Saoirse had very distinctive red hair and was approximately 5ft tall and of slim build".

Gardaí are asking anyone who has any information in relation to the murder and disappearance of Saoirse Smyth to contact the incident room in Dundalk Garda Station at 00353 42 9388470 or the PSNI incident room at Ladas Drive on 101.

Alternatively information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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