Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Report

A Child Rescue Ireland system should be introduced as a matter of urgency, according to a report on missing persons by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. This is a similar system to the internationally recognised amber alert system which will be used ‘when a child has been abducted and there is a reasonable suspicion of an immediate and serious risk to his or her health or welfare’.

The Report of hearings in relation to Missing Persons also recommends the establishment of a single helpline for those wishing to report a missing person. This telephone line should be staffed by fully trained personnel who can take all the necessary details and make the appropriate initial enquiries. This could avoid delays in the commencement of any investigation.

A national forum consisting of Gardaí, relevant State bodies and recognised NGOs that work in the area of missing persons should be established to ensure a viable, agreed and co-ordinated response system is put in place. The Committee was told that the State had produced the Irish national maritime search and rescue framework and that a similar framework needed to be implemented in relation to land-based situations.

Among the other key recommendations are:

· The possible involvement of mobile phone service providers in the provision of an alert system for missing persons;
· Examining the feasibility of a register of unidentified remains including, if possible, the use of DNA;
· Strengthening relationships and cooperation between an Garda Síochána and other police forces internationally;
· A public information process, perhaps including the delivery of a factsheet to all homes in the State providing details of helplines etc.;
· The establishment of a National Missing Persons Day;
· The provision of a place of remembrance for the families of Missing Persons.

Chairman of the Committee, David Stanton TD, said: “The never ending deep trauma, worry and sense of loss arising from not knowing how or why a loved one has gone missing, what has happened to him or to her, whether he or she is still alive or not was emphasised to and was appreciated by Committee Members.

The Committee strongly backs suggestions that were made to help raise public awareness and public assistance in searching for those who have gone missing. We are also aware of the need to explore further how to help and support families and those left behind.

I strongly agree with the proposals that a National Missing Persons Day be established, a single national telephone helpline/contact point be set up and that Child Rescue Ireland system should be introduced as a matter of urgency. More and improved coordination between various agencies involved in searching should be promoted and supported.

The Committee wishes to place on record our appreciation and thanks to the many groups and individuals who make themselves available, many on a voluntary basis, and who carry out searches and other work, often in difficult conditions.

I hope that our Report will make a meaningful contribution to help raise public awareness and public assistance in searching for those who have gone missing and in supporting families and friends.

The Gardai have acknowledged the assistance of numerous voluntary organisations that provide support and help and in particular the contributions of young people. One of the contributors to the Committee was Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork. Students from this college undertook the ‘Forget Me Not’ campaign as part of their transition year project to raise awareness of the issue of missing persons in Ireland. This campaign was a resounding success and is a credit to all of those who took part.

I believe that this project, for which Davis College recently won first place at the National Final of the Young Social Innovators Awards, should be considered by other schools which have transition year and would raise public awareness of missing persons nationally.”

Click here to view Committee Chairman discussing the report:

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For further information please contact:

Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
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Dublin 2
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Committee Membership


Dara Calleary, Michael Creed, Alan Farrell, Anne Ferris [Vice-Chairman],Tom Hayes, Seán Kenny, Finian McGrath, Jonathan O’Brien and David Stanton (Chairman)


Ivana Bacik, Paul Bradford, Martin Conway, Rónán Mullen, Denis O’Donovan.

Notes to the editor:

The following organisations made a presentation to the Committee:

An Garda Síochána
Search and Rescue Dog Association of Ireland (SARDA)
Missing Persons Helpline
Trace Missing Persons Ireland
Mountain Rescue Ireland
Searching for the Missing
Davis College, Mallow, Co. Cork