THE mother of missing 21-year-old Paul Byrne has been going through a "living hell" for the past six weeks as she waits to find out whether skeletal remains found in Co Wicklow belong to her son.

The father-of-two has been missing since 15 July 2009, when two men in a wine-coloured Mitsubishi Charisma drove to his home in Kilmartin Green, Tallaght, Dublin, and drove out of the estate with the 21-year-old.

Six weeks ago, a skull and other skeletal remains were found at Ballyfolan, near Manor Kilbride in west Wicklow.

Detectives believe they are those of Paul Byrne as some personal belongings and clothing found beside the remains are believed to belong to the missing man. The remains and clothing were sent to the state laboratory for testing.

"It's been six weeks. It's a nightmare. I was told that it would take three weeks for the tests to come back. It's been double that now. I have been ringing them every day nearly, the gardaí are waiting on the news from the forensic lab," his mother Ashley Dempsey told the Sunday Tribune.

"I think it's ridiculous how long it is taking. This is obviously a very tough time for our family. We just want to know one way or the other if it is Paul. All I can do is keep waiting for news."

On 29 July, skeletal remains were discovered about 11km from Blessington. The area was immediately sealed off and state pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy was notified. A skull, bones and items of clothing were found and taken away for forensic examination.

Gardaí believe Byrne was murdered by a criminal gang. He was not involved in criminality. Despite intensive searches by his family and gardaí, no trace of him has been found.

Paul Byrne's partner, Martina McQuillan, had only found out she was pregnant with their second child in the weeks before he disappeared. She gave birth to their second daughter, Faith, a sister to Abby, in February.

If the skeletal remains are confirmed as Paul's, gardaí will change the status of their investigation from that of missing person to murder. Gardaí believe the 21-year-old knew the person whose car he got into and are surprised that he got into the vehicle.

A source said that gardaí understood the family's frustrations over the delay but added there was little gardaí could do to speed up the forensic process.

As well as forensic testing on the skeletal remains to determine its identity, the tests are also hoping to shed some light on how the person whose remains were found died.