Murder mystery and a cover up

On the Edge


On The Edge
Áine Ryan

IT was one of those insomniac nights, I was wrecked tired and went to bed early and listened to an RTÉ repeat of Sandy Harsch and Lillian Smith’s soft sounds in ‘Sisters Doing it For Themselves’. Instead of lulling me off to sleep, I could have run a mental marathon an hour later.
It was probably not the best idea to turn on the computer again and delve into the ever-awake world of online news. But it was the smiling innocent image of a pig-tailed little girl from Donegal, Mary Boyle, that caught my eye.
Her name rang a bell.
Turns out she is the youngest missing person in the country and the subject of a new documentary by investigative journalist, Gemma O’Doherty, who, coincidentally, featured in this column some weeks ago. “Mary Boyle: The Untold Story”, was uploaded to YouTube last week and within 24 hours had almost 40,000 views.  

Remote farmhouse
ON March 18, 1977, six-year-old identical twin, Mary Boyle, was playing outside her grandmother’s house in the remote townland of Cashelard, near Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch together. Afterwards the children went outside to the yard to play but Mary separated from the rest when she followed her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, who was returning a ladder to a neighbour’s house across the fields. He has said he was half-way across the field when he noticed Mary had followed him and he told her to return to the house and continued on to the neighbour’s house. She was never seen again. It is as if she disappeared into thin air.  
Allegations have been made in the documentary, by two retired gardaí, that there was political interference in the investigation of the missing child.
Former Detective Sgt Aidan Murray and retired Sgt Martin Collins claim the chief suspect could well have been prosecuted  but a phone call from a Fianna Fáil politician had been made to Ballyshannon Garda station during the investigation.
The documentary alleges that this politician knew the chief suspect and the since deceased superintendent Dominic Murray, the garda in charge of the case.
Aidan Murray said he and another garda interviewed the chief suspect in Ballyshannon Garda station. The suspect was known both to Mary Boyle and her twin, Ann Doherty, who with her cousin, Margo O’Donnell (the country and western singer) continue to campaign about the unsolved case.

Mr Murray said in the documentary: “At one stage when I was interviewing him, I said to him: ‘Just tell us where the child is’. He started crying and roaring. I got a little nudge from the inspector at the time to ease off a little bit and I did.
“I went out to get him a glass of water at the instruction of the inspector. When I got back, I felt in my own heart that he had a guilty look. I felt if he had that extra wee push he would have admitted it.
“When you interview a person, particularly a strong suspect, you know in their eyes if they are really telling their truth. I felt that I had him. I felt if we had that wee bit of pressure we wouldn’t be here now.”
He told the documentary that the ‘sting went out of the whole investigation after that’ phonecall.
Twin sister, Ann Doherty, believes the killer was a sex abuser who wanted to cover up his activities.
“Mary had a secret and because Mary was feisty, Mary would have told. Mary had to be killed to stop her from telling. I believe that Mary was sexually assaulted. That was the secret,” she said.
She is preparing a legal action to take to the European Court on Human Rights alleging malpractice by An Garda Síochána and the government.
Let’s hope she gets a fairer and more transparent hearing there than she did when herself and Margo O’Donnell gave statements in Pearse Street Garda Station last year. Let’s hope justice is dispensed properly in this European forum about the unsolved disappearance of an innocent little girl.
The issue was raised in Dáil Éireann by Sinn Féin Deputy Mary Lou McDonald last October with Ann Doherty and Margo O’Donnell watching from the visitors’ gallery. They have repeatedly told the powers-that-be the name of the murderer. Why won’t they listen?

MORE “Mary Boyle: The Untold Story” by Gemma O’Doherty is on YouTube.