Father still hoping for new leads in decade-long search for missing son

Raymond Kelly sitting on a reminder bench he had placed close to where his son Martin Kelly went missing in January 2006
Raymond Kelly sitting on a reminder bench he had placed close to where his son Martin Kelly went missing in January 2006

More than a decade after his son disappeared from a bar in Belfast, Raymond Kelly from Holywood has said it’s not too late for anyone with information to come forward.

More than a decade after his son disappeared from a bar in Belfast, Raymond Kelly from Holywood has said it’s not too late for anyone with information to come forward.

Martin Kelly's image on a poster at Clarendon Dock

Martin Kelly's image on a poster at Clarendon Dock

Martin Kelly, 21, went missing from Pat’s Bar in the docks area during a night out with friends on New Year’s Day, 2006.

The plumber and part-time barman left the Garmoyle Street premises around 5.30pm to get a taxi home to Holywood – but returned alone 40 minutes later. He then left the bar again around 7pm and hasn’t been seen since.

His father Raymond said Martin’s disappearance has been a mystery and that the heartache of not knowing what happened has not diminished over time.

He has also repeated his appeal for two girls who were heard praying for Martin soon after he went missing to come forward.

“If you go into St Comcille’s chapel in Holywood and you are saying prayers for Martin Kelly because you overheard two fellas saying they were going to do him in...then you are obviously concerned. Those girls never went to the police or anybody else.”

Mr Kelly said: “Those girls have never come forward and I am still appealing for them to do the right thing.

“We just want to keep looking for them and I think we are getting closer to finding them. It’s important and it could at least eliminate something sinister.” Mr Kelly said his son had a number of concerns around finances – having taken a mortgage on a property in Bulgaria – and due to not seeing his girlfriend over the Christmas holidays.

“The only thing I’ve got to go on is that there is a high probability that Martin did go into Belfast harbour, with the issues on his mind that he had.

“But I have no body, and he is still a missing person,” he added.

Mr Kelly has urged anyone with information about Martin’s disappearance can contact detectives at Musgrave on 101.

• Martin Kelly is described as being 6ft 1in tall, of slim build with short dark hair and was wearing a black ‘Guinness’ t-shirt and blue jeans when he disappeared.

CCTV footage examined at the time showed Martin walking towards the Prudential Insurance building at Clarendon Dock shortly before he disappeared.

Since his disappearance, the PSNI have carried out several searches in and around the Pollock and Clarendon docks area, including a trawl of the River Lagan.

The Odyssey Arena (now SSE) overlooks the area of Pat’s Bar across the river and would have been very busy between 5pm and 8pm on January 1, 2006, giving the Kelly family hope that, even now, someone who noticed Martin or anything suspicious will come forward to aid their search.