Written Answers. - Operation Trace.

Tom Enright

Ceist:

97 Mr. Enright asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has had discussions with the Garda Commissioner regarding the progress to date of Operation Trace; if new evidence has arisen regarding the search for the bodies of the missing persons; and the position in this regard. [27731/01]

Operation Trace was established by the Garda commissioner for the specific purpose of establishing whether any common denominator linked any of the cases of six women who went missing in Leinster between 1993 and 1998.

I have been informed by Garda authorities that Operation Trace has engaged in a comprehensive review of these cases. The gardaí in the locality where the disappearances occurred investigated each of these disappearances in depth. No evidence has been uncovered to suggest a link or the involvement of a common offender. An aspect of the disappearances is the absence of an identifiable crime scene and the fact that no bodies have been located. This has resulted in a complete lack of forensic or pathological evidence, which is a significant absence.

A unique database, OVID, offenders, victims and incidents database, has been set up in the incident room, Naas, that contains salient and peripheral details of the relevant cases, incidents and suspects. This facilitates cross-referencing and highlighting of any existing similarities.

I am further informed that as a result of the media publicity which surrounded Operation Trace, members of the public came forward with information that yielded many lines of inquiries. All avenues of investigation have been and will continue to be pursued vigorously. I have been assured by the Garda authorities that should An Garda Síochána consider that sufficient evidence exists to warrant a criminal charge in any of the cases under investigation, a file will be referred to the DPP for his directions.