Unsolved: 840 missing person cases active with almost 40,000 reported as missing this last decade
All investigations remain open until the person is found, said Justice Minister Helen McEntee
Top row, from left: Missing persons Annie McCarrick, Barbara Walsh and Deirdre Jacob. Bottom row, from left: Missing persons Jo Jo Dullard, Trevor Deely and Sandra Collins
November 30 2022 02:30 AM
There are 840 unsolved missing persons cases now live on the Garda’s Pulse system, new figures show.
Some of the cases date back decades to when official records started.
In the last decade alone, a total of 38,929 people were reported missing. From 2012 to July 2022, up to 242 of these cases remain unsolved.
However, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the latest figures, taken in July of this year, showed there were 840 missing persons recorded on Pulse. All such investigations remain open until the person is found, according to Ms McEntee.
The unanswered questions, the experience of watching a little bit of hope fade with each passing year must be unbearable
Among Ireland’s most recognisable missing person cases is that of Trevor Deely (22), the bank worker who vanished as he walked home along Haddington Road, Dublin 4, after a Christmas party on December 8, 2000.
Among the other cases that have eluded gardaí are: New Yorker Annie McCarrick who was last seen on a day trip to Enniskerry in March 1993; Jojo Dullard (21) who was last seen on November 9, 1995, as she hitchhiked from the village of Moone, Co Kildare, to her home in Callan, Co Kilkenny; Sandra Collins (28), who was pregnant when she disappeared in Killala, Co Mayo, in December 2000, and was last seen buying chips at a takeaway; student teacher Deirdre Jacob (18); mother of seven Barbara Walsh (33); and Conor and Sheila Dwyer.
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“A missing person investigation commences when the incident is reported to An Garda Síochána and is constantly reviewed at superintendent level, in the relevant garda district at specific junctures,” Ms McEntee said.
This ensures that “all actions” were being pursued and the “appropriate resources” had been assigned to the investigation.
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said there should be better lines of communication between garda districts and branches in solving missing person cases.
“The pain endured by families of missing persons in many cases is greater than the pain associated with the death of a loved one,” he said.
“The unanswered questions, and the experience of watching a little bit of hope fade with each passing year must be unbearable.”
Figures from the Department of Justice show 97,826 missing person incidents have been reported in the past 10 years.
However, this figure includes individuals who go missing several times a year, and there were 38,929 to ‘unique persons reported missing’ in the decade.
We need a review of cold cases
Mr Tóibín referred to the case of Limerick man Denis Walsh (23), who was declared missing for 25 years, even though his remains were found four weeks after his disappearance.
DNA advances finally allowed identification of his body in 2021 after his elderly parents had spent years searching for their son.
The Meath TD said this case highlighted the “shortfalls” in communication and said gardaí “failed to join the dots”.
“We cannot allow situations like these, and in light of this we need a review of cold cases,” he said.
Ms McEntee – who remains a member of Cabinet while she is on maternity leave and Heather Humphreys stands in as Justice Minister – said she was “deeply conscious” of how hard life was for families of missing people.
“My department is committed to working with all relevant state bodies to help more families find their missing relatives,” she said.