Corkman Ciaran Baxter was one of over 300 people invited to attend National Missing Persons Day in Dublin.
Ciaran has just published a book called “Bring Him Home” about the successful search for his missing brother, Ronan.
National Missing Persons Day commemorates those who have gone missing and acknowledges the trauma suffered by their loved ones.
It also draws attention to open or unsolved missing person cases and creates an opportunity to provide information on available support services.
Cianan said the book, the proceeds of which are going to Cork Penny Dinners, was the family's way of giving something back for all the help they got in finding Ronan. He hopes the book will give a bit of encouragement and inspiration to families with missing loved ones.
“I am here to support people who have not been as lucky as we were,” said Ciaran. “Ronan walked out the door of our family home on Saturday, August 13, 2005, and seemingly vanished. He suffered from chronic depression at the time and we discovered that he managed to fly to London with a bus pass. Our brother's story is timeless; it could apply, today, tomorrow or next year.”
But it is a story with a happy ending. Ronan is back home; his health is good and he attended the book launch at University College Cork last Friday.
“We got huge support from the media when we went looking for Ronan and, ultimately that is how we found him.
According to the Garda Missing Persons Bureau, the number of missing persons here has increased to 890 – 20 more than last year.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who spoke at the event, said it was a “day of difficult emotions – a day of sadness and a day of hope against hope.”
The commissioner said there had been a greater focus on ensuring families were kept informed of the progress of investigations.
And, he said, "Putting the Missing Persons Bureau under the National Protective Services Bureau means garda officers with significant expertise in investigating incidences involving vulnerable people coordinate missing person investigations and provide advice to divisional officers."
They had also developed international links with the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and police forces in Britain.
Detective superintendent Gerry Murphy from the Garda Missing Persons Bureau said ten missing people had been identified using DNA samples since the establishment of Operation Runabay in January 2017.
Operation Runabay was launched to identify the bodies of persons found on the western coastal area of Britain who may have been reported missing in Ireland and its remit is to be extended to include other coastal European countries close to Ireland.
Already, there has been interaction with authorities in Spain and France, which has resulted in the remains of a missing Irish man being returned to his family.
“So far over 250 DNA swabs have been taken by the Missing Persons Bureau and the respective DNA profiles have been placed on our DNA database and this number continues to grow,” he said.
Earlier this week the brother of an Irishman missing for 36 years backed a Welsh police appeal for relatives of missing people to provide DNA samples.
Seán Whooley was only able to have the body of his younger brother Conor identified because their mother provided a DNA sample.
Although the identification process took two years, the Wicklow family got the news they had been waiting decades for a few weeks ago.