Fresh appeal for missing Laois woman

Family holds vigil in honour of Imelda Keenan who went missing 20 years ago

Samantha Keegan, niece of missing Mountmelick woman Imelda Keenan, holds a vigil for the missing woman with family and friends. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

Samantha Keegan, niece of missing Mountmelick woman Imelda Keenan, holds a vigil for the missing woman with family and friends. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 01:01

Imelda Keenan’s eldest brother got on his knees and begged for the return of his sister during a graveside ceremony in Co Laois yesterday.

On January 3rd, 1994, the 22-year-old Mountmellick woman vanished in Waterford city where she had attended the Central Technical Institute.

Family members marked the anniversary of her disappearance with a fresh appeal at their parent’s graveside in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Mountmellick. Her brother Gerry held a ceremony in Waterford.

Imelda’s mother, Elizabeth, died in 2008 not knowing what became of her daughter. “I don’t think Mammy could rest in peace. Every mother likes to know where her baby is. That’s what we want to know. We need our sister,” said Donal Keenan.

Kneeling at their grave, Mr Keenan tearfully said: “On my knees, I beg you, just give us our sister.” He later admitted he finds it difficult to believe that Imelda is still alive.

“We are not looking for justice for Imelda, we are looking for Imelda. We do not wish for anyone to be held to account for what may or may not have happened to Imelda – we just want Imelda,” Mr Keenan explained.

“Any person or persons over 20 years now, that remain silent, we realise and fully understand the difficulty that this is for you now to be asked to break your silence,” he said.

Mr Keenan added: “Closure for you and closure for the Keenan family is what’s at stake. You might even set a precedence for other missing persons and for other people who know about other cases.”

Despite the difficulty in coming forward, he said, “there is huge advantages to sharing information 20 years on. I trust in Imelda’s case that you have the courage, the strength, the willpower, and above all, the conscience to break your silence.”

He made it clear that the Keenan family have no interest in pursuing a prosecution in the case. Their only desire is to have their sister returned.

Imelda’s niece Regina Kerry appealed to those with any shred of information to come forward. She said gardaí are taking a fresh look at the case.

“They are starting again basically, they are going back 20 years, starting the case again and talking to everybody – family, friends, relatives, anybody that knew her,” she said.

Ms Kerry added: “There was a meeting in Waterford with the gardaí and Operation Trace – they are looking at the file as we speak.”

Local Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan attended the ceremony in solidarity with the family. “I would be very anxious that the State offer their full support to the Keenan family,” he said.

Mr Flanagan described it as “regrettable” that “there hasn’t been sufficient leads to bring this matter to a conclusion”.

However, he said every effort is being made by gardaí to try and solve the case and gardaí are liaising closely with the family.

Prayers will be said for Imelda at St Joseph’s Church in Mountmellick at 7.30pm today.

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