Need to centralise information in respect of unidentified bodies – Burke

-   Senator Colm Burke

There is a need to centralise information in respect of bodies or parts of bodies which have not been identified, a Fine Gael Senator has said.


Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke has been working on the area of missing persons for some time and currently has a Private Members Bill – the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill going through the Houses of the Oireachtas which would allow families to manage the affairs of missing persons, where their relative has been missing a long time and presumed deceased.


“A lot of work is ongoing in the area of missing persons and there has been much discussion in the media recently in relation to identifying people’s remains. I am firmly of the belief that we need to centralise information in respect of bodies or parts of bodies which have not been identified.


“Currently this information is retained locally which doesn’t allow for adequate co-ordination of the sharing of this information.


“This is problematic if a person goes missing in one part of the country and their remains are found in another part of the country. We need better coordination.  For example, there was a case where a person was tragically washed off the coast in Louth over 10 years ago but it was only identified within the last 12 months that it was the remains of a person who had been reported missing in Dublin some months before hand.


“A situation such as this is distressing enough for the family of a missing person. So it is incumbent on the State to streamline the process of identifying a person’s remains and to make it as pain free as possible for the family.


“The proposal to centralise information in respect of identifying remains was developed by Dr René Gapert, Forensic Anthropologist and Human Remains Specialist, whom I have met on a number of occasions in relation to this topic. Dr Gapert prepared a detailed report on this issue and I have presented this to the Justice Minister and his department.


“I previously raised this issue as a Commencement Matter in the Seanad and I was pleased that the Minister for Justice and Equality Flanagan responded by asking  the various concerned Divisions and Agencies within his Departmental remit to carefully examine my  proposal.


“I intend to follow up with the Minister again in relation to my proposal and I am hopeful of progress,” Senator Burke said.

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