McEntee hosts virtual National Missing Persons Day event
Justice Minister Helen McEntee hosted an online commemorative ceremony this morning to mark the ninth annual national Missing Persons Day.
National Missing Persons Day is an all-Ireland day of commemoration, providing an opportunity for family members and friends of missing persons to remember their loved ones and to appeal to the public for any information that might be of assistance to An Garda Síochána.
Ms McEntee said: “While it saddens me greatly that another year has passed and we are not able to come together safely in person on this important day, I know that Missing Persons Day provides families and friends affected by the ambiguous loss of a loved one with comfort, hope and a sense of unity, no matter what the setting.
“National Missing Persons Day provides an important platform to raise awareness of Ireland’s missing men, women and children. But it is also about ensuring that Ireland’s missing people are never forgotten.
“I would like to encourage people who may have information about one of our missing people to come forward. Any information, even if it appears insignificant or irrelevant, has the potential to be important and valuable to both those investigating the disappearance of our missing persons, and the families and friends of missing persons.
“I also want to encourage close family relatives of missing people who have yet to do so to provide a DNA sample for uploading to our national DNA database. The collection and subsequent matching of DNA samples from this database represents a key turning point in the identification of human remains in Ireland and has provided much longed-for closure for an increasing number of families.”
To mark national Missing Persons Day, an intimate, in-person ceremony is held each year, featuring spoken contributions from affected families, in addition to speeches from the Minister, the Garda Commissioner, and a number of other state or voluntary organisations.
However, as a result of the pandemic, this year’s Missing Persons Day was marked by an online commemorative ceremony. This year’s ceremony is again compered by Barry Cummins Covid will also feature contributions from representatives of the Coroner Service and the Irish Coast Guard.
Addressing a number of recent positive developments in the justice sector, Ms McEntee said: “In June this year, Minister Humphreys wrote to each coroner in the State, requesting that they send my Department details of all unidentified human remains within their coronial districts. 35 of 38 coroners have now submitted these returns, which are being collated by departmental officials and will be shared with the Missing Persons Unit at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau for analysis.
“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 a new statutory annual return to myself, as Minister for Justice. My Department will provide an ongoing annual update on any new cases to the Missing Persons Unit to enable Gardaí to follow up with the individual coroners.”
She concluded: “Finally, I would like to thank all the families who will join us virtually this morning. National Missing Persons Day is first and foremost about the families and close friends of our missing people. This is a day to commemorate your missing loved ones and, today, we remember them with you.”