Avonmore to be asked to print Jo Jo Dollard image on packaging

Josephine ‘Jo Jo’ Dollard went missing 47 miles from her Kilkenny home in 1995

Josephine “Jo Jo” Dollard has been missing since 1995. In 1999, garda posters were put up seeking the public’s help in locating the Kilkenny woman. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Josephine “Jo Jo” Dollard has been missing since 1995. In 1999, garda posters were put up seeking the public’s help in locating the Kilkenny woman. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A leading Irish dairy producer is to be asked to print a missing person’s appeal for Jo Jo Dollard on the back of its milk cartons to compel people to come forward with information on the woman who disappeared 20 years ago on Monday.

Kilkenny TD and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness said he will make the approach as not enough has been done through official channels to solve the case or those of other missing people.

Mr McGuinness, a long-standing supporter of the Dollard family, expressed his frustration at the State’s approach, including previous reluctance to accept offers of legislative guidance and police training by various US agencies including the FBI.

He said that during a trip to America with the Dollard family in 2004 then Senator and current US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met with them and offered to have her own personal legislative advisor engage with Irish government officials on policy initiatives.

Josephine “Jo Jo” Dollard has been missing since 1995. The then-21-year-old was last heard from when she made a call from a public telephone 47 miles from her Kilkenny home.

Her case, and those of other long-missing women, was the subject of “Operation Trace” established by gardaí in 1998 to examine potential connections. She also remains listed on the Garda missing persons database.

However, speaking to The Irish Times, Mr McGuinness said the Irish response to missing people’s cases has fallen far short of other countries.

He said Monday’s anniversary should be an opportunity to publicise Ms Dollard’s disappearance, publicly reconstruct her last movements and carry out a fresh search of lands near where she was last seen.

Mr McGuinness said a version of missing people appeals on milk cartons to mark anniversaries should also be considered.

“Did anyone go and ask Avonmore if they would print a picture of Jo Jo dollard on the back of their carton? These are not new ideas; these are ideas that have been on the go in America down through the years,” he said.

“What I find hard to take in Ireland is that we don’t take the same initiative that they do in other countries. And we are almost reluctant to ask (for support).”

As part of a self-funded trip to the US, Mr McGuinness, together with Ms Dollard’s sister Mary Phelan and her husband Martin visited the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the NYPD and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York which offered to train gardaí under the auspices of the Jerry McCabe Fellowship.

He also said there should be commercial sponsorship to raise awareness on missing people as in the US.

However, he said all avenues of opportunity presented to the government on their return were allowed to pass.

The Dollard family, he said, is “quite defeated by the whole process because they don’t feel that they have had the response that they should have. Mary would be extremely disappointed that there wasn’t a special unit put in place given the number that are still missing.

“The only people who keep [public awareness] alive is the families. Somebody’s conscience somewhere will be tripped by this and god knows what information will come out.”

Ireland’s missing people will be remembered at an annual mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny next Sunday, followed by a walk to the nearby national memorial.