Centralised database for unidentified remains would lead to quicker identification and assist investigations

28th February 2021 - Colm Burke TD

The creation of a centralised database for unidentified bodies would lead to quicker identification of missing individuals and could help authorities in the investigation process, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Cork Deputy Colm Burke has reiterated his call for data on missing persons to be held in a central database, as currently records are held in local mortuaries.

Deputy Burke said, “This database would give a central location for a small number of bodies which have been recovered but not identified, and would establish links with other agencies such as An Garda Síochána and coroners offices located throughout the country.

“It could lead to speedier identification and help the families of missing persons who are presumed dead to settle their affairs, it could also enhance investigation processes and the solving of cases by the Gardaí due to information being streamlined and stored in one location.

“I am also calling for the establishment of a centralised unit on forensic human identification which would coordinate information both in respect of those who are missing but also where bodies are recovered but not identified.

“I have asked Justice Minister Helen McEntee to consider the creation of this centralised database for missing people and have also asked for the inclusion of DNA samples from their immediate families which could assist in the process.

“I have also asked the Minister if her Department will make contact with all coroners offices to collate the data on unidentified remains going back up to 70 years, which in the long term would ease the workload on Gardaí and coroners.”

In 2019, Deputy Burke had his Missing Persons bill to help families of a missing person become a reality when it became legislation.

The change, proposed by the Cork TD, now allows for a presumption of death order where the circumstances of the disappearance indicate death is virtually certain or where the length of the disappearance indicates it is highly probable the missing person has died and will not return. In turn, this made it possible for life assurance policies and the assets of estates to be processed with the certification of a death order.

Prior to this, Deputy Burke worked with and heard the experiences of many families who had been left in limbo by such circumstances.

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