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Today, Wednesday 4th December 2019 is National Missing Persons Day, a day which commemorates those who have gone missing and recognises the lasting trauma for their families and friends. National Missing Persons Day also draws attention to open or unsolved missing persons cases, and creates an opportunity to provide information on available support services.

Speaking at the event Garda Commissioner Drew Harris acknowledged a “day of difficult emotions – a day of sadness and a day of hope against hope” and highlighted that “Putting the Missing Persons Bureau under the National Protective Services Bureau means Garda officers with significant expertise in investigating incidents involving vulnerable people coordinate missing person investigations and provide advice to Divisional officers. There has also been a greater focus on ensuring families are kept informed of the progress of investigations, and we have developed international links via Interpol and with the UK”.

Operation ‘Runabay’ was launched by the Missing Persons Bureau of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau on 4th of January 2017, in an effort to identify the bodies of persons located on the western coastal area of Great Britain who may have been reported missing in Ireland.

Speaking at the National Missing Persons Day event Detective Superintendent Gerry Murphy, head of the Missing Persons Bureau stated “The operation brings together partner agencies such as An Garda Síochána, the UK’s National Crime Agency and North Wales Police, as well as other UK constabularies. Recognising the central role that ‘Operation Runabay’ plays in our efforts, it is our intention to extend its remit to include other coastal European countries close to Ireland.

Under Operation ‘Runabay’ the Missing Persons Unit initially aimed to identify suitable cases where it was believed that the missing person may have entered the Irish Sea off the East Coast of Ireland and could then subsequently be located on the West Coast of Great Britain. Once this has been established a DNA sample is voluntarily obtained from a family member in each case and the sample is compared with DNA records held in the UK in respect of all unidentified person.

So far over 250 DNA swabs have been taken by the Missing Persons Bureau and the respective DNA profiles have been placed on our DNA database and this number continues to grow.

Operation ‘Runabay’ will assess missing person’s cases from all coastal regions of Ireland and will include enquiries with the relevant authorities in Spain, Portugal and France. Already there has been interaction with authorities in Spain and France which has resulted in the remains of a missing Irish man being returned to his family.

Since the establishment of Operation ‘Runabay’ in 2017 ten (10) missing people have been identified using comparative analysis with familial DNA.

The Missing Persons Bureau are available to take DNA samples from close family members of any long term missing person who wish to provide them or alternatively they can provide samples to their local Garda Station if they so wish.

An Garda Síochána and the Missing Persons Bureau are appealing to family members who wish to provide a DNA reference sample to assist in the future identification of missing loved ones, to contact the Missing Persons Bureau on 01-6669476, their nominated family liaison officer or their local Garda Station.

Further information on the Garda Missing Persons Bureau can be found here.

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