Families cling to hope missing loved ones will turn up
HIS friends in Dublin City University last saw Paul Bunbury in Room N109A, and later, shortly after 4pm that afternoon, February 2, the last CCTV images of him were captured.
They show the 19-year-old student from Tulibards, Bridgetown, Co Wexford, unmistakable with his long hair, full beard and glasses, entering the Eurospar shop on the Ballymun Road.
From there he could have gone anywhere.
Since then he has not accessed his email, logged onto a computer and his phone has been switched off. His apartment on campus has been searched with nothing of significance discovered.
Paul Bunbury has disappeared without trace.
His father Mark says he is now deeply worried about his son. "This is so totally out of character. Paul always stayed in contact. He has always been a very upbeat, positive person. He was the one who would cheer you up if you were down in the dumps. We are just hoping that he has gone off for whatever reason and that he will turn up safe and well," he says.
Similar to the case of Paul Bunbury, CCTV images provide the last clue in relation to the disappearance of Monica Riordan, the 39-year-old worker with the state agency Pobal who went missing on December 20 last.
Her colleagues at Pobal have now spent more than six weeks trying to keep her mysterious disappearance in the public eye.
Images of missing people in shops, on lamp posts and in pubs have become disconcertingly commonplace.
Ms Riordan appeared disorientated when last seen at the Macken Street junction of Pearse Street at about 5pm on December 20, say gardai. She walked along Macken Street from under the railway bridge towards Pearse Street.
The last verified sighting was a result of leafleting carried out two weeks after she disappeared.
Again Ms Riordan disappeared without trace.
The Garda Press Office is now well practised at dealing with missing-person cases. At least three times a week the newsrooms of the print and broadcast media receive alert emails detailing a disappearance. In most cases there is a follow-up email to say the alert has been cancelled and that the person has been found "safe and well".
In other cases a sad communique is sent out confirming the discovery of a body answering the description of a missing person.
But since Galway woman Blathnaid Timothy disappeared without trace on December 14, 2010, there have, in the intervening 14 months, been 42 cases where people have gone missing.
However, only nine of those cases are actually listed in the "missing person" file published on Garda.ie.
It is understood that 23 missing persons cases are not listed because families have requested that no publicity be given to the case or because the cases involve individuals who have, of their own volition, left the care of the State and whose whereabouts are currently unknown.
And there are many cases of missing people which have not gained widespread attention. They include 50-year-old Abraham Donovan who went missing from his home on Lower Buckingham Street, Dublin, on April 18. Mr Donovan was a talented musician and a popular music teacher at the Kings Hospital School who was described as being 5ft 7ins tall and 12st in weight with short brown hair and was last seen wearing a navy blue jacket. His disappearance has left his family distraught. They posted a message on the missingpersons.ie website.
"Abe is one of the sweetest, kindest people you could meet, his family have been walking the streets searching for clues of his whereabouts throughout the summer, putting up posters but to no avail," the posting said.
Sazzad Alam Bihare, 16, from Bangladesh, went missing from Glendoher Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin, on May 2, 2011.
Later that month, on May 22, a young Chinese woman was reported missing in Terenure, Dublin. Reports of the disappearance of Li Huan, 16, remain sketchy. The petite teenager who was 4ft 10ins was described as being slim with brown hair.
Bobby Ryan was last seen at 6.30am on June 3 last year at Fawnagown, Co Tipperary. He is described as being 5ft 2ins and of stocky build. His Citroen Dispatch van was found at Bansha Woods that afternoon but family and friends have not heard from him since that day.