Gardaí have said a preliminary examination on the remains discovered in a shallow grave on a beach in Co Louth found the remains are those of a woman.

The assessment was made on the basis of clothing found on the skeletal remains.

The remains were found at Shelling Hill, close to Templetown beach near Dundalk earlier today.

Gardaí have confirmed that the body was found in what appeared to be a shallow grave, approximately one foot under the surface.

The area where the remains were discovered is close to the site where previous searches were undertaken to locate the secret grave of Belfast woman Jean McConville.

Those searches were unsuccessful.

Ms McConville, a mother of ten, was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972.

The 41-year-old son of Ms McConville has said that he hoped that the body found is that of his mother.

'It would bring to an end 30 years of hell,' he said. 'We just want to give her a Christian burial.'