Area excavated in Philip Cairns probe

A wooded area in a golf club is being excavated in the search for a schoolboy missing for 23 years, it emerged tonight.

Gardai acting on a new lead have sealed off a patch of land in Grange Golf Club in south Dublin as part of investigations into the disappearance of 13-year-old Philip Cairns, who vanished in October 1986.

It is understood breakthroughs in new technology may have helped the missing persons probe.

“It is an excavation of the site at Grange Golf Club in Rathfarnham,” a garda spokesman said.

“An extensive investigation into the disappearance of Philip Cairns is ongoing. Recent developments have identified a small wooded area in Grange Golf Club.”

A team of geophysicists and experts from the garda technical bureau are on site and are expected to carry out excavations in the wood until Friday.

The Cairns family have been kept up to date with developments.

Schoolboy Philip went missing on his way back to Colaiste Eanna secondary school after having lunch in his home on the Ballyroan Road at 1.30pm on October 23, 1986.

One week later pupils at Colaiste Eanna returned to the school during their mid-term break to be interviewed by gardaí.

Philip’s school bag was found in a laneway off Anne Devlin Road, Ballyroan, although the lane had been searched before this. Some books were recovered while others were missing but forensic tests did not lead anywhere.

There were over 400 reported sightings and all were followed up. The Cairns family also persuaded milk companies to distribute posters of Philip during their deliveries.

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