State urged to take DNA from remains of unidentified people

 

THE STATE should compile a register of unidentified human remains and take DNA samples from them before they are buried in the hope the information may solve missing persons cases in future years, a new report has recommended.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has also suggested mobile phone companies become involved in providing a text alert system for emergency missing persons cases, especially when it is suspected a child has been abducted.

The recommendations were contained in a brief report released by the committee yesterday. It heard submissions in public in March from the Garda and NGOs involved in trying to assist families and loved ones find missing persons and aid them when their loved one is missing presumed dead.

Committee chairman David Stanton TD (FG) said he and his colleagues had listened carefully to those groups and understood the trauma endured by the families of the missing.

The suggestion that a database of unidentified remains be compiled and DNA be taken from those remains before burial is designed to solve such cases.

Often the families of missing people will years after a disappearance hear of an unidentified body having been found and buried, and will try to establish if it was their loved one.

However, because very little information is compiled about the circumstances of such bodies being found, it is almost impossible for family members to establish if an unidentified body is that of their relative.

A DNA database of all such bodies would greatly aid investigations by families.

The committee has also recommended that an amber alert system – used to issue public alerts for children believed to have been abducted – should be rolled out immediately.

The committee was told during its public hearings by Garda Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney that such a system was in the final stages of preparation.

The committee has also recommended the establishment of a national missing persons day, and a national helpline staffed by trained personnel.