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Missing Persons

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (492)

Willie O'Dea


492. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding recommendations being implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61134/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to acknowledge the pain and trauma experienced by all families of missing persons in the State.

As the Deputy will be aware, the national DNA database, which is administered by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), has been a significant breakthrough in identifying missing and unknown persons in recent years. To encourage more family members to participate in DNA testing, my Department is developing a targeted outreach, in partnership with An Garda Síochána and FSI, to build on the success of National Missing Persons Day.

To support the work of these organisations, it is crucial that they are aware of all unidentified remains (partial and full) within the State, which fall under coronial jurisdiction. In July, Minister Humphreys wrote to each coroner in the State, requesting that they send my Department the number of unidentified human remains within their coronial districts. These results will be collated by my officials and will be shared with the Missing Persons Unit of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

In order to keep this data up-to-date, from 2022 onwards, coroners will be asked to include details of any unidentified human remains reported to them in the preceding year, as part of their statutory annual returns to the Minister for Justice.

In July, a forum was established by my Department with An Garda Síochána’s Missing Persons Unit, and with FSI, in order to maintain regular communication and information exchange on these very important matters.

I was pleased to participate in this year’s virtual National Missing Persons Day event on 1 December along with Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin (as a representative of the Coroners Society of Ireland), relatives of missing people, and other key stakeholders. This event provided an important opportunity to remember those who have gone missing as well as raising awareness of the significant contribution made by DNA testing to the conclusion of a considerable number of missing persons cases over recent years.