GRIEVING families are being forced to deal with the added trauma of bystanders capturing videos of their loved ones being recovered from the River Lee.
Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery member, Chris O'Donovan, has pleaded with the public to respect the families of missing persons.
He decided to speak out in response to scenes at a recent recovery operation which he said played out like a "public gallery."
The incident happened during daylight hours and attracted crowds who remained on each side of the river.
What was even more shocking, Chris said, was the number of people filming as the body was taken from the water.
He recalled having to conceal the deceased person using a boat in an attempt to protect their dignity.
He said: "There was a public gallery with 200 people standing by the river.
"Gardaí had the place blocked off but about 99% of people had their phones out.
"The family of the person we were taking out was just standing there watching as everybody filmed."
Mr O'Donovan added: "They knew what was happening and even though Gardaí told them to stop there were still people filming.
"People don't realise that when they are taking out their phones they are doing so in front of the family.
"Missing persons have families and that's something we all need to remember. These families need to be treated with respect.
"Respect is a big thing and we do our best to treat the deceased with as much respect as possible. Respect is common decency but common decency isn't so common anymore."
He said that measures had to be taken to ensure discretion.
"Eventually, the fire service had to put up screen to stop people watching.
"I have no idea what the legislation is around posting videos like this. All I can say is that it is very traumatic for families.
"All we're trying to do is keep things as discreet as we can for the sake of the family.
"Seeing a loved one being recovered from the river is extremely traumatic.
"When it happens the family is hysterical. However, when people start taking out their phones it brings that trauma to another level."
He remarked that those filming at the recovery operation came from all walks of life.
"These were men and women, young and old.
"The behaviour wasn't restricted to one group.
"At one stage a bus full of people passed by and almost everyone in it immediately took out their phones. The sensitivity was non-existent.
"Everything is at the click of a button now. It's so easy to capture something on your phone but we need to consider the family."
He added that seeing the behaviour of by-standers that day will have a lasting effect on the family of the deceased.
"The stress of that is something that will stay with us. It will also stay with the family."
Chris pointed out that the use of technology makes their work even more difficult.
"We are being watched like hawks. As soon as you see a phone you are immediately worried that what is happening will find its way into the public domain."
To find out more about Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery or to donate visit https://tinyurl.com/t5xqjcj