Officially named the Serious Crime Review Team, it had a staff of 15 in 2013 but this had been reduced to eight by the close of 2015. Precisely why almost 50% of its staffing levels was cut in just two years remains unclear.
Among the unsolved cases were the murders of Raonaid Murray in Glenageary, Dublin, in September 1999; Irene White in Dundalk, Co Louth, in April 2005; Emer O’Loughlin in Tubber, Co Clare, in April 2005; and Eddie Fitzmaurice in Charlestown, Mayo, in May 1998. The team is also investigating several prominent cases of women who disappeared.
The gradual disbandment of such a potentially important unit is worrying. Besides adding to the considerable grief and upset of these families, it will further diminish whatever slim hopes they are clinging onto after years of heartache.