The families of a doctor who went missing a decade ago have questioned a Garda decision to undertake a search for her remains.

Deirdre Donnelly O'Flaherty has not been seen since 11 January 2009, when her car was found at Kinnego beach, Co Donegal.

Gardaí last week carried out an excavation on land in Milford, Co Donegal, around 80km from the place of her disappearance.

The 46-year-old Strabane-based doctor had been staying with her family at a holiday home when she went missing.

The dig concluded on Friday, with gardaí announcing that nothing linked to the investigation had been found.

In January 2012, three years after she disappeared, the High Court in Belfast ruled it was satisfied that Dr O'Flaherty had died.

The judge used new legislation for the first time - the Presumption of Death Act - in Northern Ireland to declare he was satisfied that Dr O'Flaherty had drowned after going into the sea in Co Donegal.

The court was told she had suffered from depression.

The Donnelly and O'Flaherty families have now issued a joint statement expressing concerns about the Garda operation.

They described the last week as an "ordeal", and have asked to meet the officers involved in the operation in a bid for answers.

"The close and extended families of Dr Deirdre Donnelly O'Flaherty wish to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many kind and thoughtful messages of support which they have received over the course of what has been a tumultuous and distressing week leading up to the 10th anniversary of Deirdre's disappearance on the 11th of January 2009," they stated.

"The families are relieved only because this ordeal is over although in our view, the outcome was not in doubt.

"Notification that gardaí were going to carry out a land search for Deirdre was entirely unexpected, not least given that the finding by Order of Judge Deeney at Belfast High Court on the 12th of January 2012 that Deirdre had 'gone into the water and drowned' was supported by the oral evidence of the investigating Garda Sergeant.

"As far as the families are aware there has not in fact been any ongoing search for Deirdre since at least that time.

"The families had only three days' advance notice of the gardaí excavations near Milford, County Donegal, and therefore had little time to prepare for the consequences of the very public, national exposure of this story during the week."

In the statement, the families claimed that gardaí were handed an anonymous note purporting to show map co-ordinates locating Dr O’Flaherty’s remains.

The statement added: "The families have not seen this note and this information was not made public due to the ongoing nature of the investigation."

The families have requested a meeting with the investigation team "to discuss a number of questions relating to the conduct, conclusions and consequences of this investigation".