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Written Answers. - Missing Persons.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 168. Mr. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  the total number of people currently listed as missing persons; if this number is on the increase; if there is ongoing dialogue with the relatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18763/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am assured by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána does all in its power to locate missing persons and that it provides considerable support for families.

The Garda authorities have informed me that the effectiveness of the working methods and procedures employed in missing persons cases are continually reviewed. As a result, substantial changes were made in 1998, such as the introduction of new guidelines and procedures which place a particular emphasis on keeping the families of missing persons informed by a Garda liaison officer who deals with a designated family member.

Garda statistics reveal that approximately 99% of those reported missing in any year are accounted for by the end of that year. It must be realised that most of the people who go missing do not do so in suspicious circumstances.

I recognise the anguish suffered by the families of missing persons and in this regard, my Department is funding a dedicated helpline which is to provide information and emotional support ser[1232] vices for those families. This helpline will be operated by Victim Support and I will be launching it next week.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of persons who were untraced at the end of each year, from 1990 to 2000, the last year for which published figures are available is as follows:

Year Number Untraced at Year End
1990 10
1991 11
1992 7
1993 9
1994 12
1995 17
1996 9
1997 3
1998 10
1999 16
2000 22

The current figures and those for 2001 are not yet to hand but I will arrange to have them forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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