Bodies of number of missing persons identified by gardaí

The missing persons were recovered in Operation Runabay, which was established in 2017 by the Missing Persons Unit, with an initial focus on investigating the cases of unidentified persons found along the western coast of the UK.
Bodies of number of missing persons identified by gardaí

Fermoy native Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, who is the head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, spoke about the work of An Garda Síochána’s Missing Persons Unit, which comes under his responsibility. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

GARDAÍ from the Missing Persons Unit, working with the Marine Institute of Ireland, have identified the bodies of a number of missing persons, bringing closure for their families, the head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau has told The Echo.

Fermoy native Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, who is the head of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, spoke about the work of An Garda Síochána’s Missing Persons Unit, which comes under his responsibility.

“We do a lot of work around human remains and we work closely with the coroners and with UK police,” Det Chief Supt Noonan said. “We’ve had some really good successes in the last six months, with a number of people who have been missing for years, who have been identified as lying in unmarked graves in Wales and Scotland, and we’ve been able to identify them as people who went missing off the coast of Ireland.”

The missing persons were recovered in Operation Runabay, which was established in 2017 by the Missing Persons Unit, with an initial focus on investigating the cases of unidentified persons found along the western coast of the UK.

Recently, the Missing Persons Unit has expanded the operation to include greater co-operation with the UK unit, and the British National Crime Agency, exchanging information related to missing persons and unidentified human remains in both jurisdictions.

Det Chief Supt Noonan said the Garda Missing Persons Unit also works the Marine Institute of Ireland, which provides expert scientific statistical analysis in the recovery of missing persons.

“Some of that work is around, ‘If a body goes in at this location, where is it likely to end up?’ and then we go to the police force at that location and ask, for example, ‘In 1984, did you have any bodies wash up that remained unidentified?’ “We’ve had some missing people identified in the last few months as a result of that process,” he said.

The people identified recently had all been missing for several years.

“It’s massive closure,” Chief Supt Noonan said.

“Because for a family who doesn’t know where their loved-one has gone, we are now able to say to them, ‘We’ve found your loved-one, their body was recovered here, and here’s the grave, or you can bring them home’.

“We’re able to give some peace to people who have been grieving for years without knowing where their loved-ones are,” he said.

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