The founder of the Missing in Ireland Support Service hopes to establish a missing persons alliance next year to ease the burden on families experiencing the sudden disappearance of a loved one.
On the eve of the first annual National Missing Persons’ Day, which will be marked by events tomorrow, Dermot Browne said he also hoped a smart phone app could be developed that would help publicise cases of missing people and link families and friends to support services.
Mr Browne said a number of meetings had been held with different groups around the country and more would take place in January in an effort to form an alliance.
“So far, five groups have come on board,” he said.
They include the River Boyne Fishermen’s Search and Rescue Group, Mallow Search and Rescue, Abbeyfeale Search and Rescue teams, and the Irish Missing Persons Association.
The aim is to have one phone number which families can ring in the event of someone going missing, to provide immediate practical support regarding how best to deploy local search teams, and also to link them in with Missing in Ireland Support Service and other groups that could help them in the event that the person is not found.
Mr Browne said having a loved one go missing “is not something you can prepare for”.
“We have decided to go ahead with it,” he said of the idea of an alliance, adding that any such group would hope to make greater use of social media and the development of an app.
He said that the current Missing Persons Helpline was operating on limited resources and that expenses had exceeded funding.
“We don’t get as many calls as we would like to get,” said Mr Browne.
It is estimated that while there are 8,000 missing person reports made every year, around half that figure are actually missing person cases and the vast majority of people are found, usually within a relatively short space of time.
Mr Browne will be among those addressing a gathering at Farmleigh House in Dublin tomorrow to mark the first National Missing Persons’ Day and he will use the opportunity to ask families experiencing the absence of a loved one to reach out to other families who are in a similar situation.
“Families go into a shell and then end up in a kind of denial,” said Mr Browne.
“There is a lot to be gained by talking to each other and how they deal with it.”
Plans for the first National Missing Persons’ Day arose from an initiative by transition year students of Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork, and the ‘Forget Me Not’ campaign, with the Mallow students winning a ‘Young Social Innovators of the Year’ award for their efforts which included lobbying of the Taoiseach and other politicians.
Meanwhile, gardaí at Clontarf in Dublin are seeking the public’s assistance in tracing the whereabouts of Leon Quirke, aged 17.
Leon was last seen in the Fairview area of Dublin, at approximately 12.30am on Wednesday, Nov 27.
He is described as being 6ft tall, of thin build, with brown hair and blue eyes.
He was last seen wearing a grey hoody and blue jeans.
Gardaí are appealing for anyone with information to contact Clontarf Garda Station on 01 666 4800, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.
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