Hunters join search for Irish pilgrim

HUNTING clubs in the Medjugorje area of Bosnia-Herzegovina have been asked to assist in the search for missing Irish woman Winnie Brady.

Ms Brady, 59, went missing in September while on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje — home to six people who claim to have seen regular apparitions of the Virgin Mary since 1981.

Despite extensive searches of the area, Ms Brady has not been found.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern told the Dáil last week the most recent large-scale search was carried out on November 23.

“It covered Medjugorje and the surrounding areas, and involved some 80 police officers. The Krievac Hill (a hill where pilgrims assemble for the Stations of the Cross) was thoroughly searched by teams from a [police] support unit in Mostar, including a dog unit. A Garda stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the EU Police Mission was involved and has been exceptionally helpful throughout this difficult period… [but] to our great regret, this extensive search produced no new developments.”

Mr Ahern was responding to a question from Independent TD Tony Gregory, who previously told the Dáil Ms Brady’s family suspected a local cover-up designed to prevent a negative impact on tourism in the area.

Mr Gregory had asked the minister to consider hiring a Bosnian private investigation agency to trace Ms Brady.

But Mr Ahern said local police in Medjugorje had assured the Government that they would continue their efforts to find the Dublin woman.

“Furthermore, the hunting clubs in the region, who are active every weekend and have large memberships, have agreed to support the search effort in every way possible. In essence, everything possible has been, and will continue to be done.

“Against the above background, there has to be a question mark about the value of a separate private investigation; I think it would be understood also that this would not be a matter for the department.”

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