Updated: 06/07/17 : 06:15:47
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Major new search begins today for missing Leitrim man

It’s understood that some developments have been made recently in relation to a case involving a Leitrim man who’s been missing for the past seven years. Gardaí have now launched a murder investigation into the man's disappearance.

48-year-old Patrick Heeran disappeared from his home at Aughavas in Leitrim in October of 2011.

He is described as being 5’9″, of stocky build with fair hair.

When last seen, he was wearing brown shoes, blue jeans and a brown jacket.

The Defence Forces are assisting gardaí in the search.

Further extensive land searches get underway today in the North West region.

His family have previously said they feared he had been killed and his body hidden.

Searches were carried out over the years in Co Leitrim and at one point in the Belturbet area of Co Cavan.

It is believed that some progress has been made in recent weeks but there has been no official confirmation so far however gardaí are scheduled to hold a media briefing today and renew their appeal for information related to the case.

At the time of his disappearance, Mr Heeran was suspected of being a victim of a violent gang based in Longford who had previous assaulted him over an unpaid drug debt.

It was his his sisters who first raised the alarm when they went to his home in Leitrim and found his TV still on on.

An open can of cider and rolled cigarettes had been left on a table in his living, giving the impression that he had just stepped out.

In the years since, two gardaí involved in the missing person’s investigation claimed that a criminal suspected of being involved with the disappearance was protected by senior officers because he was an “off-the-books” informant.

Last year the Dáil heard allegations that senior gardaí did not seal off the scene in a timely fashion.