Northern Ireland news

Missing schoolgirl Mary Boyle's sister to meet PSNI

Donegal schoolgirl Mary Boyle (6) disappeared without trace in March 1977
Connla Young

A SISTER of Donegal child Mary Boyle is to meet the PSNI over claims that someone living in Co Fermanagh may have knowledge of her disappearance.

The six-year-old vanished from her grandparents' home near Ballyshannon in March 1977.

She is believed to have been murdered and her body possibly buried in bogland near the Fermanagh border.

New claims about her disappearance are contained in an internet documentary by investigative journalist Gemma O'Doherty.

So far the film, which includes interviews with retired gardaí, has been viewed on YouTube more than 85,000 times.

It suggests that political pressure was put on gardaí not to question relatives of a man regarded as the chief suspect, who was known to Mary and her family.

The suspect continues to live in Co Donegal and has never been arrested.

An inquest into the suspected death has never been held.

Veteran Donegal Fianna Fail TD Pat ‘The Cope' Gallagher has said he was not the alleged political figure, saying he worked in the fishing industry at the time.

Suspicions that Scottish serial killer Robert Black, who died earlier this year, was linked to Mary's disappearance have also been dismissed.

Mary’s identical twin sister Ann Doherty believes her killer was a sexual abuser who wanted to cover up his activities.

Earlier this year Ann and Ms O’Doherty met PSNI chief constable George Hamilton and First Minister Arlene Foster during a trip to America.

Ms O’Doherty claims Mr Hamilton has since failed to meet her despite a promise to do so.

She said she recently discussed the case with detectives in Enniskillen after it emerged that a person living in Fermanagh may have information about Mary’s disappearance.

She added that Ann and distant cousin Margo O’Donnell, a sister of country music star Daniel O’Donnell, are due to meet detectives shortly.

“We have been liaising with the PSNI for a number of weeks in relation to this,” she said.

“They have the information, we have already given it to them, we just have to make official statements.”

Ms O’Doherty said she has some concerns about the PSNI’s delay in acting on information they have already been provided with.

“How often do they get calls about a six-year-old children being murdered?” she said.

Asked about the case, a spokesman for the PSNI said: “This is an An Garda Síochána investigation.”

Earlier this week it was confirmed that a Garda cold case unit is now set to probe Mary’s disappearance.

However, Belfast-based solicitor Darragh Mackin, who represents Ann Doherty, said he has yet to be notified about the development and a formal complaint will be made to the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission.

Meanwhile, Ms O’Doherty has said she does not know why her film was removed from YouTube in the Republic earlier this week.

The documentary could still be viewed in other parts of the world.

It was reported that a message on the site said the information was unavailable “due to a defamation complaint”.

Ms O’Doherty said the film was later put back up.

“I would like to know who made the complaint,” she said.

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