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Mary Boyle

Calls for inquest to be held into Ireland's longest-running missing person case

Mary Boyle (6) disappeared while visiting her grandparents in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on 18 March 1977.

mary Mary Boyle Screengrab / YouTube Screengrab / YouTube / YouTube

THE TÁNAISTE HAS said it is not her place to call for an inquest to be held into Ireland’s longest-running missing person case.

Mary Boyle (6) disappeared while visiting her grandparents in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on 18 March 1977. She is presumed dead.

The case is back in the public eye after a number of politicians raised the issue with the Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, in her capacity as Justice Minister.

In response to a parliamentary question asked by independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle this week, Fitzgerald acknowledged that there have been concerns raised about the initial garda investigation into Mary’s disappearance.

I have given very close attention to correspondence received in my department which raised issues in relation to the garda investigation and also the question of holding an inquest.

Fitzgerald added that she is unable to request an inquest be held as, under the Coroners Act 1962, coroners act independently of her department.

“A coroner is responsible for the scheduling and conducting of inquests in his or her district and neither I nor my department has any role in the conduct of an inquest in individual cases,” she said.


Ann Doherty has claimed her twin sister Mary was killed by somebody known to her.

Doherty met with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last month. She was accompanied by journalist Gemma O’Doherty and Margo O’Donnell, a sister of singer Daniel O’Donnell and neighbour and distant cousin of the Boyles.

Doherty also met Taoiseach Enda Kenny last November to discuss the case. She and O’Donnell gave lengthy statements to gardaí at Pearse Street garda station in Dublin in October in a bid to assist the investigation.

ann Ann Doherty Screengrab / YouTube Screengrab / YouTube / YouTube

O’Doherty previously told that Doherty “has known for many years who her sister’s killer is” after a person told her of their identity.

Meanwhile, Pringle told us:

It is important for Mary’s family that the inquest is convened without delay.

‘Ongoing trauma’

Fitzgerald said she is “very conscious of the ongoing trauma and distress for the families and friends of persons who go missing”.

“I can assure the house that I am fully aware of the various concerns which have been raised about [this case].

“I am also mindful of the sensitivity of the issues involved and, in this regard, I might add that I have previously met with the next of kin of the missing person, who is also the principal point of contact within the family for An Garda Síochána.”

Fitzgerald added that it would not be appropriate for her to comment on an ongoing garda investigation.

I am also mindful of the need to ensure that nothing we say would add to the distress which the family in this case has already experienced.

Fitzgerald said she understands that a Garda review team is “endeavouring to advance the investigation and that all avenues of inquiry are being fully being pursued”.

She noted that two complaints in relation to the case have been investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), stating: “I am advised that no misbehaviour on the part of members of An Garda Síochána was identified by GSOC and the complainant was notified of these findings.”

O’Doherty plans to release a documentary about Mary’s disappearance, The Untold Story, next month.

Comments are disabled on this post as there is an ongoing Garda investigation. 

Read: The mystery of Mary Boyle: A missing girl, a heartbroken family and a 38-year investigation

Read: Enda says he will meet sister of woman at heart of 38-year investigation