Funds shortage threatens future of missing persons helpline

The man behind Ireland’s only missing persons helpline is concerned that lack of government funding could see the charity close its doors within 12 months.

Established by Mullingar man, Dermot Browne, the National Missing Persons Helpline has just one employee for 20 hours per week, and contains more than 20 volunteers.

Based in Dublin city, the charity provides counselling to families of missing people here.

Every year more than 9,000 people are reported missing in Ireland and up to 50 of them are not traced.

Ahead of National Missing Persons Day tomorrow at Farmleigh House, Mr Browne is planning to speak to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan about the lack of resources.

The charity has recently been refused €10,000 in funding to run a pilot project throughout the country that would enable families of missing people to meet and support each other.

According to Mr Browne, the organisation which was initially set up in 2003, has just €5,500 in government funds to run over the next 12 months.

“We have limited resources,” he said. “We don’t know what will happen in 12 months.”

Earlier this week, Mr Browne met with senior members of the gardaí in a bid to get members of the National Missing Persons Hotline to liaise with student gardaí in Templemore.

It is anticipated that in the new year, volunteers will speak to gardaí about the best way to approach families who have discovered their loved ones have gone missing.

“Training is by experience and the majority of people in the National Missing Persons Hotline have experienced someone going missing,” Mr Browne said. “The gardaí do not get training in this.”

The date of the National Missing Persons Day coincides with the anniversary of the disappearance of Trevor Deely 16 years ago aged 22. His family will attend the event in Farmleigh.

Michael Deely, Trevor’s father, says it is getting more difficult with time.

The Serious Crime Review Team are currently investigating his mysterious disappearance.

Mr Deely said: “It is very tough on all the family, we have to keep going. It gets more difficult with time. You get tired physically and mentally, you have to face it anyway.”

He went missing after attending a Christmas party on Friday, December 8, 2000, and was last spotted on CCTV footage which showed him crossing Baggot St Bridge and walking towards Haddington Rd at about 4.15am.

It was a very windy, wet night and there was a taxi strike at the time. He had a blue ACC golf umbrella and was wearing a yellow and brown shirt and beige cord trousers.

When he did not turn up to work on the following Monday, his mother Anne got a phonecall.

Mr Deely said: “She was asked if Trevor had been around at the weekend, he wasn’t meant to be. The second phone call, we got more panicky. Birthdays and Christmases are so hard, we really miss him.”


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