Written Answers. - Missing Persons Investigations.

John McGuinness

Question:

904 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will have considerations made into setting up a helpline within his Department to assist the families of missing people; if he will establish a website giving details of all those people who are missing and any new information relative to each case and include helpful information of a general nature; if he will consult with the families of missing persons to determine what else is required in relation to a website of this kind; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19919/00]

I have spoken in the House on many occasions on the subject of missing persons. As I have indicated before, the deployment of Garda resources and the investigative methods used in missing persons cases are matters for the Garda Commissioner. I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána do all in their power to locate all missing persons. On an international level, the gardaí liaise with Interpol and non-Governmental organisations where there is a world-wide network to trace missing persons.

I am further informed that, at present, An Garda Síochána do have a website which gives details of certain missing persons cases but I understand that relatives must first grant permission to An Garda Síochána to place the details of the missing relative on the website. The details are placed on the website by the Garda Press Office, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, at www.Garda.ie. An Garda Síochána encourage relatives to avail of this facility, but understandably they do not always wish to avail of this facility and their wishes must be respected.

As my Department does not take part in investigations I do not think it appropriate that it should develop a similar website. Furthermore, in cases where family members lose contact with each other and where, for example, people are not missing in suspicious circumstances it would not be appropriate for my Department to become involved.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that another option for relatives is the website set up by Father Aquinas Duffy offering the same facility to relatives of missing persons, his address is located at www.missing.ws. The Deputy may be interested to know that there are also other organisations which assist people to trace missing relatives such as the Salvation Army.