Annie McCarrick disappearance could still be solved, says former garda

Possibility American student was murdered in 1993 by Provisional IRA member must be pursued, former cold-case detective says

The disappearance and murder of Annie McCarrick could still be solved, and her remains returned to her family, despite the passage of time since she vanished three decades ago, a former Garda cold-case squad detective has said.

Alan Bailey, a retired detective sergeant who worked on the cold-case inquiry into Ms McCarrick’s killing, said the possibility she was murdered by a member of the Provisional IRA who is believed to have met her in Johnnie Fox’s Pub, Glencullen, on the day she was last seen alive must be pursued.

Gardaí have been told by a source the man panicked after revealing things about his life in the IRA, apparently trying to impress the American student, and then decided to murder her and had help disposing of her remains.

“It’s certainly one [line of inquiry] that should be followed up and put to bed one way or the other,” Mr Bailey told The Irish Times of the IRA man, whose identity is known to gardaí and who is believed to have fled to the United States in the 1990s.


Ms McCarrick (26) travelled from her home in New York to Ireland to study and was living in an apartment at St Catherine’s Court in Sandymount, Dublin, with two other friends. She was last seen on a bus to Enniskerry on Friday, March 26th, 1993 and was officially declared a missing person on March 30th when her mother travelled to Ireland. The 30-year anniversary of her disappearance falls next weekend.

One witness told gardaí he saw her in Johnnie Fox’s Pub, near the Dublin-Wicklow boundary, on March 26th.

Mr Bailey said it was possible people who came into the killer’s life only in the years after the murder may have important information on the case. In his experience, people who carried out murders that went unsolved for years at times mentioned the crimes to people around them, including women they were in romantic relationships with. They may also make mention of the murders “as a call for help” because the “burden” became too great for them.

“I would say having something like that on your conscience for 30 years is not something you could carry, it’s a burden you won’t carry alone,” he said. “Time and time again in cases down the years, we have found that. You might think [a killer] would never crack at any point, but it’s a huge burden to carry.”

Mr Bailey said suspects were regularly put on trial, and in many cases convicted, of crimes dating back decades. He also believed developments in forensic techniques meant it was “more possible” to make a breakthrough in the McCarrick investigation.

He added that in cold cases the passage of time is not a bar to a prosecution and, in fact, may help garner the new evidence required to secure a conviction.

“Loyalties, or maybe fear of certain people, may have caused someone to keep quiet for many years but that pressure can be gone years later and [witnesses] are more inclined to talk.”

He cited the example of Dublin boy Stephen Hughes Connors, who died in a fatal fire in Tallaght, in September 2001. The 12-year-old and his friend were sleeping in a hut they had made out of wood and carpet when it was intentionally set on fire in the early hours of September 1st that year.

The case went unsolved for years, despite a cold-case review and repeated appeals for witnesses to come forward. However, Dermot Griffin, Ballyfermot Road, Dublin, was convicted of manslaughter almost 15 years later. Two people in fear of him in 2001, and a woman he was in a relationship with at the time, came forward and gave crucial evidence years later.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times