Mary Boyle, who disappeared from her grandparents’ farm in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal on March 18, 1977, and who remains Ireland’s longest missing child case


Last week, the twin sister of Mary Boyle, Ann Doherty made a statement to Gardai outlining how a former senior garda told her there had been political interference during the investigation into Mary’s disappearance.

It now transpires the authorities were notified of this officer’s claims back In 2012.

Gemma O’Doherty writes:

The former officer has told Broadsheet that he was approached by somebody known to Mary in the days after the murder.

This individual told him he believed the six-year-old was murdered by somebody she knew and that she may have been the victim of a sexual assault. The person was very distressed as he spoke to the officer. He said other people known to Mary held the same opinion.

The individual he identified as the suspect has never been arrested.

It has also emerged that in 2012 the officer gave Gardaí a 28-page account of what he believed happened to Mary Boyle. He repeated the fact that he had been told the identity of the killer by people known to Mary.

He also said that he was aware of a phone call by a politician to Ballyshannon Station requesting that certain individuals not be considered suspects. However no further action was taken by the Gardai following the officer’s statement.

His concerns were revealed in Broadsheet almost two weeks ago but he has not yet been contacted by An Garda Siochana.

Today, Ann Doherty, Mary’s identical twin, renewed her plea to Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to act on information she and others have given to the Gardaí over many years, and most recently at Dublin’s Pearse St Garda Station on October 1.

During a six-hour interview with officers, she identified the person she believed to be the killer, information she has given to the Gardaí in the past which has not been acted upon. She was accompanied by singer Margo O’Donnell who also named an individual she believes is responsible for Mary’s murder.

The women also gave copies of their statements to Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

Speaking  to Broadsheet, Ann Doherty said:

“Mary was a feisty little girl who would have blown the whistle if somebody had done something to her. She wouldn’t be walked over. She wouldn’t let anyone away with anything. I believe she held a terrible secret and was not willing to keep it. That secret I believe was that she had been sexually assaulted.

“It is my opinion that the Gardai have known who murdered my sister since 1977. I have been told by an ex-officer that a politician contacted Ballyshannon Station early on in the investigation and said that certain people were not to be considered suspects. There is no doubt in my mind that this hindered the investigation hugely.

“I am holding the Gardai fully responsible for their failure to find my sister and bring her killer to justice. As a result of their actions, a child killer has been at large in Ireland for almost four decades. And even now, it seems they are unwilling to act and do the right thing. This is a Garda cover-up of monumental proportions.”

During leaders’ questions last Tuesday, Sinn Féin Deputy Mary Lou McDonald challenged Enda Kenny about the case. He admitted he had been given information about it some years ago, which he said he passed onto the Guards. He did not follow it up however.

Margo O’Donnell rang Mr Kenny on his mobile telephone after he became Taoiseach in 2011 to inform him of her concerns about Garda wrongdoing and to ask for his help to find the missing child. She never heard from him again.

When asked by Deputy McDonald if he was willing to meet Ms Doherty, the Taoiseach said he was. However, a request sent by Ms Doherty on Wednesday, October 7, to set up this meeting has not yet been acknowledged.

Ms Doherty’s legal team, at Kevin Winters Law Firm Belfast, is considering an action against the State for its failure to have an effective investigation in the murder, a right enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Her solicitor Darragh Mackin has also applied to the Donegal coroner Denis McCauley to hold an inquest without further delay.

Previously: Mary Boyle And ‘Political Interference’

‘I Brought The Allegation To The Attention Of The Gardaí A Number Of Years Ago’

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26 thoughts on “They Knew

  1. manolo

    I understand the principle of assumed innocence and all, but if I was Mary’s sister, at this stage I would have spilled the beans publicly and named the suspect and the politician that removed the individual from the list of suspects. Who is being protected by her own silence? She would be safer if the suspect’s name becomes public knowledge. Am I missing something?

    1. Owen

      Was asking the same myself. At this stage, 40yrs later, it’s time to spill it . No doubt some legal issues, but after all this why bother fighting the law when you can far quicker break it.

    2. zackersetu

      That would likely mean that the suspect would become more untouchable … presumed guilty. Claim of no fair procedures, inability to provide a fair trial for either the politician or the perpetrator. The family and friends undoubtedly want justice and my impression is that they they have been advised well. I welcome them putting on the pressure… hopefully it gains traction quickly. The public should support the pressure, but not ask questions likely to damage the entire case!!

      1. manolo

        I still don’t see evidence of intent to do something. 40 years… is this going to be another post mortem trial by media?

    3. Bobby

      They’re a suspect. They haven’t been proven to have committed any crime so it would be outrageous if she forced trial by media by naming them.

  2. phil

    Its kinda strange, in this country it seems a fair few dont want travellers halting sites near their homes , they will organise and get politiacns involved , but when it comes to child murderers living next door to us , that woman has to campaign in the wilderness for years to be heard …

    ya confused point I know…

    1. St. John Smythe

      Actually, if it was a politician from 1977 in the Republic of Ireland, and especially in Dublin, who intervened then I would saw the chances are fairly low. Look at who was in power back then, and then think about the kinds of people they were close to…

    2. Fergus the magic postman

      Don’t think so. If that was the case FG Labour & FF would have been jumping all over it as soon as SF started doing well in the polls.

    3. Shockabilly

      Seems highly unlikely. How many SF politicians do you suppose had influence over the boys in blue during the troubles…SF/IRA and the Gardai would not be my go to boys when looking for a model of harmonious relations at that time …

    4. John twomey

      Sinn Fein wasn’t recognised back then so you have made a complete Muppet of yourself mo chara

  3. GOS

    There is an allegation of political interference. We have no idea if there is evidence or if it happened. No senior politician of that time is still holding any office or exercising any known influence in the parties which were in government then (FG/Lab).

    What is badly needed is a process whereby someone who manifestly has no axe to grind at least asserts whether the core allegations of a failure to investigate and outside interference are true. As members of the public we have been shown nothing other than a statement that people ‘knew’ who did it.

    1. St. John Smythe

      FF were also in power then(from June), it was an election year.
      So all the main parties are game then

  4. Fergus the magic postman

    A government’s efficiency, & willingness to respond to the likes of this, (and plenty of other important allegations of corruption in the Gardai & Government) is what should be influencing the outcome of polls & elections, and not feeble give-away budgets.

    1. Anne


      What a disgrace. 28 pages. Jesus Christ.

      I can’t get over how that fupping gombeen Enda Kenny does not give one ha’penny fupp.
      I can’t stand the man.
      He’s as thick as two shorts planks, but a cute self interested sleeveen all the same.
      Zero integrity. Zippo.

    2. Oh Dear

      Are you saying the Government should be telling the Gardai who to arrest and how to do their jobs?

      Like political policing then? I thought you didn’t like that.

      1. Fergus the magic postman

        What I am saying is available for you read above. It’s actually the comment you are responding to.

        Hope this helps.

  5. Truth in the News

    This Child disappeared in 1977 without trace, what needs to be established now
    was there political interference and by whom and if there is a suspect why was that person not questioned, if the Guards have been notified through a 28 page dossier in 2012 of certain suspicions by a former member why has nothing being done.Enda Kenny was told about the case and nothing happened, its like the penalty points all over again, except a missing child is at the center of case, one wonders what else is buried and covered up, it now seems that the IRA were not alone, a lot more were busy at the same activities, burying and covering up…come to think of it we have a lot of disappeared people.

  6. gick

    name the affiliations by the suspect, see who’s cage gets rattled by the disclosure the most and bingo!

    Plus, what guard would ignore a child killer in their parish?

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      We have plenty of social history to prove that those who covered up heinous crimes against children are just as guilty as the perpetrators of the crime. I guess this is what is mostly feared right now.

  7. Gerry FAHY

    The government should bring this case to the garda and sorted out once and for all so ANN Doherty can have closer and peace of mind and hopefully be able to lay her little sister to rest

Comments are closed.

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