Search for missing Ciara Breen could last ‘number of weeks’

Ciara (17) was last seen in her Dundalk home by her mother in 1997


Gardaí say a new search for missing Dundalk teenager Ciara Breen could last a number of weeks.

The 17-year-old disappeared from her home at Bachelor’s Walk in the town in the early hours of February 13th, 1997.

The extensive garda search operation got underway at Balmer’s Bog off the Ardee Road on Tuesday morning, a short distance from Dundalk garda station.

The land in question is a 16-acre site but the search itself is focused on a specific area.

The development comes, after gardaí­ investigating Ciara Breen’s disappearance, renewed their appeal for information in the local media last November.

It was confirmed at the time that two people had recently come forward with separate historic sightings on the night she went missing.

That and a TV appeal on RTÉ’s Crime Call programme in December encouraged others to come forward and two anonymous letters were received.

Ciara was last seen by her mother Bernadette at thie home.

She explained 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.”

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

A man in his 50s was arrested in Dundalk in April and taken to Drogheda Garda Station for questioning. He was later released without charge with a file being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In a briefing to the media at the scene of the search this afternoon, Supt Gerry Curley of Dundalk Garda Station said as a result of new information received on foot of a national and local appeal a number of lines of enquiry are being followed up.

He said the search of Balmer’s Bog area involves members of the Louth divisional search team, divers from the Garda Water Unit and members of the technical bureau. He added that they are equipped with specialist equipment to search for missing persons.

The investigation is being headed by Det Insp. Pat Marry who added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have come forward in recent times to help us with the investigation and I would also take this opportunity to appeal to people out there that may have with information that could help us further”.

The investigation team can be contacted at Dundalk Garda Station at (042) 9388400, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

Ms Breen’s case was part of Operation Trace which was established by the Garda in 1998 to determine if there were links between the disappearances of a number of women in the Leinster area.

Other cases examined include the disappearances of Deirdre Jacob, Annie McCarrick, Jo Jo Dollard, Fiona Sinnott, Fiona Pender and Eva Brennan.

No connection was found and none of the women’s remains have been discovered nor has anybody been charged with any crime in relation to their disappearances presumed murders.