Missing persons bill to help families left in 'limbo'

The Government is to make changes to help families who are left in “limbo” when a relative goes missing. The Cabinet has approved a missing persons bill designed to assist families in dealing with the management of their estate.

Currently, a death certificate cannot be issued for a missing person, life assurance policies cannot be processed, and no decisions can be made in respect of the assets of the person’s estate.

The changes would allow 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.

Senator Colm Burke, who first published the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill 2016 along with senators Marie-Louise O’Donnell and Lynn Ruane, welcomed the Cabinet’s approval of a money message to allow the legislation proceed.

He said:

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.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan also brought the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission annual report to Cabinet. It revealed that 24 protected disclosures were made in 2018.

GSOC opened 1,921 complaints and a total of 74 sanctions were applied by the Garda commissioner in 2018 on foot of disciplinary investigations. Those sanctions ranged from advice to pay. cutsGSOC sent 17 files to the DPP following criminal investigations last year.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will travel to Paris today where he will join international leaders to launch an initiative to tackle terrorist and violent extremist content online.

This initiative is led by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and French president Emmanuel Macron. The Christchurch Call to Action initiative will commit governments and online service providers to counter and remove terrorist and extremist content online.

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