Families of missing persons share their ‘unique pain’

Garda Commissioner says the force’s missing persons service is being reviewed

 

Family members and loved ones of missing persons have shared stories of their “unique pain” at an event in Dublin for the third annual Missing Persons Day.

More than 9,000 people were reported as missing last year, of which 17 cases remain unsolved. Of the 7,753 reported cases in 2013, 12 remain outstanding.

Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan said at this time of year families watch the excitement and build up of Christmas with the “dull ache of someone who is missing, who used to be part of all that – it must be so hard”.

She said each case brought with it a unique pain and that each one was ongoing “because we will never stop in our search for answers”.

She said An Garda Síochána is currently reviewing its missing persons service. She said the force was looking at “new and innovative ways” to collaborate with partners to ensure “no stone is unturned” in the search for a missing person.

Patrick Collins, brother of Sandra Collins who went missing, believed murdered, from Co Mayo in 2000, said his sister was a smart, funny woman who loved her family and friends.

“Our lives really were changed forever when Sandra went missing,” he said. “Every single morning and every single night each of us in our own way think of her. She left a huge void that will never be filled.”

Michael Jacob, father of Deirdre Jacob who went missing from Newbridge, Co Kildare, in 1998, said relatives of missing persons are a group who are constantly waiting.

“Every day is a challenge,” he said. “We are consumed by the loss of the family member. Ask anyone in this room, we are lost ourselves.”

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald paid tribute to the families as well as the organisations who trace missing persons. She said the event marked “a very special, a very difficult, a very important day”.

She added that new legislation establishing a DNA database that was enacted last month will be a help in resolving missing persons cases.

After the ceremony at Farmleigh House family members released homing pigeons and laid roses at the fountain in Farmleigh Garden.