Senator Colm Burke has said that Cabinet approval of his missing persons Bill is welcome, and will help the families of people who are missing.
Senator Burke said: “I am very pleased that my Bill, the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill 2016, has had its money message approved by Cabinet.
“My missing persons Bill, which I published initially in July of 2016, is designed to assist the families of missing persons in dealing with the management of the missing person’s estate.
“I believe we need to be understanding and compassionate to people who have suffered this trauma.
“As the law presently stands, in cases where a person remains missing, and it is clear from all evidence available that they have died, there is no legal procedure available to allow for their estate to be managed. Their families and friends are left in limbo, unable to take any action in respect of the person’s affairs.
“A death certificate cannot be issued, life insurance policies will not be processed and no decisions can be made in respect of the assets of the person’s estate.
“The primary purpose of the Bill is to deal with the civil law status of missing persons. It puts in place a statutory framework which would provide for the making of a presumption of death order in respect of missing persons.
“This is where the circumstances of the disappearance indicate that death is virtually certain. The second category is where both the circumstances and the length of the disappearance indicate that it is highly probable that the missing person has died and will not return.
“The Law Reform Commission published a report entitled ‘Civil Law Aspects of Missing Persons’ in 2013, which clearly identifies the legal challenges encountered by the families of missing persons. My Bill seeks to provide a clear pathway for families to overcome those challenges at what is already a very difficult time.
“I want to thank my fellow Senators Marie-Louise O’Donnell and Lynn Ruane for their assistance in getting the Bill through the Seanad,” the Cork Senator said.