Sixth annual national Missing Persons Day ceremony held at King’s Inns

Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan hosted the commemorative ceremony at King’s Inns yesterday to mark the sixth annual national Missing Persons Day.

Missing Persons Day is an annual day of commemoration which takes place on the first Wednesday in December each year. It commemorates those who have gone missing and recognises the lasting trauma for their families and friends. It also draws attention to open or unsolved missing persons cases, and creates an opportunity to provide information on available support services.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Flanagan said: “Missing Persons Day provides a national platform to raise awareness of ambiguous loss beyond the community directly affected.

“The day also highlights the important work of many organisations, such as An Garda Síochána, Forensic Science Ireland and community and voluntary organisations throughout the country. These organisations provide valuable and ongoing support to families and friends of missing persons.”

Missing Persons Day was first launched on 4 December 2013 and has since been developed into an annual campaign in partnership with organisations working in this area.

The ceremony was attended by the families and friends of missing persons, a number of whom spoke at the event. Other speakers at the ceremony included the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, and Dr Dorothy Ramsbottom from Forensic Science Ireland (FSI). Music was provided by Mount Anville Junior Choir, soloists Julieanne Forrest and Joe O’Grady, and the Garda Band.

The National Missing Persons Helpline provided an information point at the ceremony. This year’s ceremony marked the third year of the FSI/An Garda Síochána facility to collect DNA samples from close family members.

Mr Flanagan referred to the vital contribution made by forensic science in matching family DNA stored on the national DNA database with unidentified remains and commended FSI and An Garda Síochána for a number of successful DNA matches that have been made this year.

He said: “I want to pay tribute to the FSI and An Garda Síochána. These successes provide tangible hope for many other families.”

The ceremony concluded with the symbolic release of homing pigeons.