An Irish family celebrated the birthday of a man missing for three years in the Netherlands with a protest at the Dutch embassy in Dublin yesterday.
James Patrick “JP” Grealis, from Tonragee, Achill, Co Mayo, was 24 when he disappeared from the Dutch town of Breda on Oct 23, 2008.
JP’s family, who claim the Dutch authorities neglected the case, marked his 28th birthday with the delivery of a letter of complaint to Dutch ambassador Robert Engels.
The family asked the ambassador to convey their concerns to the Dutch authorities.
Ms Engels assured the family that he would report back to them on his contact with Dutch authorities about their brother’s case “in three to four weeks”.
The family also delivered copies of the letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and all TDs.
The last reported sighting of JP, a carpenter, was after he checked out of a bed and breakfast, saying he was going to find work in another town.
He was last seen in Eindhoven during the first week of Nov 2008 and last phoned home from Breda on Oct 23, 2008.
While he may have travelled to Rotterdam in Nov 2008, it is thought unlikely that he could have travelled outside of the Netherlands.
The family believe that his disappearance was suspicious and that he may have been murdered.
JP, described by his family as laid back and easygoing, had worked as a carpenter in the Netherlands since Apr 2007.
He kept in regular touch with home, calling one of his four older sisters or parents at least once a week and had booked a flight home for Christmas before going missing.
The family have regularly returned to Holland in the hopes of a breakthrough. Awards of up to €10,000 were offered for information but yielded nothing.
“Last October, we met with the public prosecutor assigned to our brother’s case in the Netherlands and were informed a week later that the investigation would commence,” said Helen.
“But, to this day, we have had no written or verbal communication from the Dutch authorities.
“I am not quite sure but I do feel something bad has happened to JP. It is very out of character for him not to contact his family.”
Helen said that there was nothing to suggest that there was anything wrong with JP when he last called home.
And, she said, none of the evidence indicated that he might have gone missing on his own accord, as Dutch police had suggested.
There had been no further entries made on JP’s bank and telephone records since the day he left Breda.
“Everything seemed normal with him and that is why we are so concerned about what happened to him.”
Helen said the family had done everything they possibly could to find JP.
“We really need the authorities here to push the authorities in the Netherlands on this,” she said.
Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on justice, Dara Calleary, said that the Grealis family had made a phenomenal effort to try and find JP.
The Mayo TD was praised by the family for the effort he had made in highlighting their case.
“Compared to what the family have done to try and find JP, my effort has been very small,” he said.
* According to missing person statistics posted on garda.ie, there were 8,339 reports of missing persons within the Irish jurisdiction in 2010, with 24 still outstanding at the year’s end.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved