Plea for new approach to investigation of missing persons

Father of Deirdre Jacob for end to ‘hit and miss practice of investigation’

As part of National Missing Persons Day a special event has been held at Farmleigh House, Dublin which commemorated those who have gone missing and acknowledged the lasting trauma for their families and friends. Video: Bryan O'Brien


The father of Deirdre Jacob, who disappeared almost 20 years ago, made a direct plea to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan for a new approach to the investigation of missing persons cases at a commemorative event for families on Wednesday.

In remarks from the floor, Michael Jacob told Mr Flanagan and Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey that the decision making process for ongoing cases was “not good enough”.

Mr Jacob was applauded by other families of missing people as he made his appeal to the men on stage at the national Missing Persons Day event at Farmleigh, in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

“There is only so much that we can do. We need help,” he told them.

“I plead with you both to implement a new approach in the investigation of the missing.”

Deirdre Jacob (18) was last seen on July 28th, 1998 near her home in Newbridge, Co Kildare. She had gone to the AIB branch in Newbridge to get a bank draft to pay for student accommodation in St Mary’s College, Twickenham, where she was training to be a teacher.

Mr Jacob told the Minister he was looking at a group of people who had suffered a “life shattering” experience.

“The help that is required is sufficient resources made available to An Garda Síochána so you, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, can put in place a full time, dedicated team of determined investigators to investigate the missing,” he said.

Missing persons figures are fluid, with many of the thousands of reports quickly solved, often with people turning up soon afterwards. However, Wednesday’s event was attended in the main by families who have had missing relatives for prolonged periods of time.

Hit and miss

“There are many cases of people missing for five, 10, 20, 30, 40 years, and as we heard here today, 70 years, with little or no progress being made,” Mr Jacob said. “All because of the hit and miss practice of investigation due in the main to a lack of resources.”

Shortly beforehand, Deputy Commissioner Twomey had described the experience of the families as suffering a “terrifying pain that never ends” and said gardaí must never give up in their efforts to help them.

He said progress had been made in investigation techniques, particularly with technology and DNA analysis.

Dr Linda Williams from Forensic Science Ireland appealed to relatives to give DNA samples in order to help identify remains.

This system began in 2015. It has DNA profiles of 15 unidentified bodies and of 111 families still seeking to find loved ones.

DNA tests were recently used to identify the body of a man who had been buried unidentified in Co Louth ten years ago. His body had been washed up on a beach in Co Louth in 2007. Two brothers of Joseph Reilly (50) who disappeared in Dublin in 2006, provided DNA samples to Forensic Science Ireland which matched those from the body buried in Co Louth.