Northern Ireland

Deirdre O'Flaherty: Search for doctor missing for 10 years

Deirdre O'Flaherty
Image caption Deirdre O'Flaherty was also known by her maiden name of Deirdre Donnelly

A major search has begun in County Donegal for a doctor who went missing almost 10 years ago.

Deirdre O'Flaherty, a GP based in Strabane in Northern Ireland, has not been seen since 11 January 2009 when her car was found at Kinnego beach.

She had been staying with her husband and children at a holiday home nearby.

Despite an extensive air and sea search, the mother-of-three's body was never found.

An Garda Síochána (Irish police) said a land search and excavation has now begun in the Milford area of County Donegal.

Image caption The searches are taking place on land between Rathmullan and Kerrykeel in County Donegal

It is expected to last up to five days.

'No change'

The search is being carried out by members of the Donegal Divisional Search Team and Garda Technical Bureau along with private contractors.

"This development continues to form part of a missing person investigation and there is no change of status regarding same," a Garda spokesman said.

Gardaí said they were liaising closely with the family and a family liaison officer has been appointed.

Dr O'Flaherty, 46, was also known by her maiden name of Deirdre Donnelly.

Image caption Irish police say the search could last for five days

'Drowned'

In 2012, three years after her disappearance, a High Court in Belfast ruled that Dr O'Flaherty had died.

It was the first time that legislation allowing the courts to declare a missing person dead was used in Northern Ireland.

The judge ruled that it was proved to the court's satisfaction that Dr O'Flaherty entered the sea on 11 January 2009 and subsequently drowned.

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