THE uncle of Ireland’s Madeline McCann has died, sparking fears her mystery may never be solved.
Little Mary Boyle, who is often compared to the missing Maddie, disappeared from her grandparents’ home in Donegal on March 18, 1977.
And the six-year-old’s uncle, Gerry Gallagher – who was the last known person to see Mary alive – died on Wednesday after a short illness.
Online detectives have long suspected Gerry’s death and are now urging Gardai to search his property.
On a Justice for Mary Boyle Facebook page, one wrote, “I’m angry he didn’t have to face justice on this earth or reveal where Mary is.”
Another added: “Hopefully there’s a top-down search of the farm.
“Shame he was never brought to justice.”
Mary was escorting Gerry, her mother Ann’s brother, to a neighbor’s house when she was last seen at 3:30 p.m. on the day of her disappearance.
The pair dropped a ladder back to a neighbor when Mary turned back halfway after encountering a small pool of water too deep for her to get through — just five minutes from her grandparents’ home.
She was last seen by her uncle eating a packet of Tayto chips, it has been reported, and has never been seen since.
Gerry chatted with the neighbors after leaving the ladder and returned to his parents’ home at 4:30 p.m.
A frantic search for the six-year-old had already begun.
The case has been regularly compared to that of British woman Maddeline McCann, who disappeared from her bed at the family’s holiday home in Portugal on May 3, 2007.
Singer Margo O’Donnell, who is related to Mary Boyle, said she heard the news of Gerry’s death from Mary’s twin sister, Ann.
She told the Irish Independent: “I got word from Mary’s twin that he has passed away. It is sad. It just brings everything back.
“It was a terrible, terrible story. I knew Mary Boyle; I had the privilege of knowing her. She was a beautiful, pretty little girl.
“I don’t want anyone to have to serve a day for Mary’s disappearance or her death.
“But I just want her to have a decent burial and a proper resting place instead of lying up there somewhere in the mountain.”
Mary’s devastated mum Ann opened up before Christmas about how she never gives up hope her daughter will be found.
And 45 years later, she’s still shocked at what happened to her beloved little girl so close to her hometown.
She told The Irish Sun: “It’s crazy to think something like this could happen – I can’t believe it happened where I grew up.