Gardaí battle the elements in search for Ciara Breen

The search for missing Dundalk girl Ciara Breen continued in atrocious windswept conditions yesterday as the Garda Technical Bureau, using specialist equipment, battled against the elements.

Their efforts are concentrated on a specific area of the 16-acre Balmers Bog on the town’s Ardee Rd, less than 3km from her home in the Bachelor’s Walk estate.

If a body is discovered at the location, then whoever placed it there after she disappeared on Thursday, February 13, 1997, when she was 17, took some serious risks as the location is extremely close to Dundalk Garda Station.

Yesterday afternoon, a local Garda search team, together with the sub-aqua unit and members of the technical bureau began clearing the land.

Late last year, two witnesses came forward, separately, to report sightings of the apprentice hairdresser on the night she went missing.

An appeal on RTÉ’s CrimeCall programme in December may have stirred memories in others, and two anonymous letters were received.

On the same programme, Ciara’s mum Bernadette issued a plea for help: “I had one, just one little girl; my heart, my soul, my world, and just like that she was gone.

“She was not streetwise and she paid the price and, if anything comes out of this, I would like it to be for whoever has the information we need for Ciara to give it.

“Please, please, don’t let her lie out there on her own any more, let her come home.”

Ciara was last seen by her mother who said, at the time, they had both gone to bed just after midnight. “I got up at 2am to go to the toilet and I looked in her bedroom and she wasn’t there. She didn’t take any money or clothes with her. It is as if she went to meet somebody and did not get back.”

Ms Breen believes her daughter had left a window on the latch so she could climb back in. She waited for her to return but never saw her again.

Yesterday, a close family friend told the Irish Examiner: “We just want closure, that’s it. closure first, justice second.

“We are just hopeful that, after 20 years, all Bernadette wants to do is give her daughter a decent burial at this stage, and hopefully whoever was responsible, he or she has to answer for it.

“It’s a long, long time; somebody must have this on their conscience.”

Ciara’s disappearance was the focus of Operation Trace, established in 1998 to determine if it was linked to a number of other missing women in the Leinster area. No connection was found nor were any remains.

In April, a man in his 50s was arrested in connection with Ciara’s case but was released without charge. He was known to the teenager and was not related. A file was prepared for the DPP.

Dundalk Superintendent Gerry Curley said a number of lines of inquiry are being followed up following the receipt of new information.


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