06 February 2006

Divers to search for missing man

BBC

Police investigating the disappearance of a County Down man are to begin an underwater search at Belfast docks.

Martin Kelly, from Holywood, was last seen in the docks area on New Year's Day after going with friends to a bar in Garmoyle Street.

Divers, boats and sonar equipment are to be used in a two-week operation.

They plan to search an area around the spot where CCTV footage pictured a man standing on the night the 21-year-old went missing.

Mr Kelly, a plumber and part-time barman, stayed on in Pat's Bar after his friends left and was seen leaving it alone at about 1910 GMT.

The PSNI have also renewed their appeal for information about Mr Kelly's disappearance.

They said they wanted to hear from anyone who may have seen him in a nightclub or other premises on the night of 1 January or from any taxi driver who may have collected him and taken him elsewhere.

Mr Kelly's family and friends have previously criticised the police for not doing enough to find him.

Searches

Since his disappearance, they have handed out leaflets outside Belfast City Hall and at the Odyssey arena, in an attempt to jog people's memory and gain information.

Last Sunday, they released 100 yellow balloons, before taking part in a search of the docklands and surrounding areas.

Many people also took part in a walk from Garmoyle Street back to Mr Kelly's home town.

Paul Kelly, Martin's brother-in-law, believes the family's campaign forced the police into action.

"No missing person would get this level of support at this stage from police unless there was pressure, not only from the family but also from the media as well as large backing and support from the public," he said.

Mr Kelly said the family believed every person who went missing had the right to be found quickly and that searches should be done speedily and effectively.

"It is only by the pressure we have put on as a family to the police that these searches are taking place," he said.

The family and friends of the missing man have also launched a website to try to gain clues to his whereabouts.

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