A sensational claim that a senior IRA member murdered missing Irish American Annie McCarrick in Ireland in 1993 has been made by a former top policeman who headed the inquiry.

The disappearance of Annie McCarrick, a Long Island native whose body has never been found after a night out in a remote pub in the Dublin mountains in March 1993, remains one of the great unsolved crimes in Ireland.

Now retired detective sergeant Alan Bailey, who was national coordinator of Operation Trace, is author of Missing, Presumed a book about several Irish women who went missing in the 1980s and 1990s.

He claimed on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke program that McCarrick’s killer later went to the US where he got work as a bartender after he allegedly abused the child of a leading IRA figure.

Bailey says that McCarrick, whose distraught parents Nancy and John spent many months in Ireland searching for their daughter, met the unnamed IRA man in Johnnie Fox’s pub that fateful night and they commenced a conversation.

Bailey claimed the information came from a “very reliable source,” and was a story that “needs to be checked out.”

During the conversation the IRA man bragged about his exploits and named names and late realized he had said too much.

“He realized the enormity of what he’d done and it sealed her fate.”

He offered a lift back into town but “drove her up the mountains where he killed her and concealed her body behind some bushes.”

He told Dublin IRA members she was a spy and they helped him bury her body.

He was later accused of molesting the child of another senior IRA man and was sent to America, where he allegedly got work as a bartender.

Bailey said the story needed to be checked out, that the information only came to light in 2009/2010, but Operation Trace had been wound down in 2002.

The latest speculation about what happened to McCarrick follows other theories mostly about a serial killer loose in Ireland in the 1990s.