News Analysis

Saturday 22 October 2016

Ireland's disappeared people

Donal Lynch

Published 16/12/2007 | 00:00

Even in a country as small as Ireland 7,000 people are reported missing each year. Most are found fairly quickly, but the small number who are never found leave behind family and friends who must live daily with the pain of not knowing what happened to their loved one.

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Last week was the seventh anniversary of the wet and windy night that Trevor Deely went missing. Recently, his family and friends once again put up posters of Trevor around Dublin and have renewed an appeal for information that might lead to him being found. Trevor is from Naas in Kildare but was living in Dublin when he went missing. He was last seen in the Haddington Road area of Dublin 4 and was wearing a yellow and brown shirt and beige cord trousers at the time.

Stefan Punch is another name that many will remember. Stefan was last seen in August 2003 at a friend's house in Cork. The day after he disappeared his car was found abandoned in Co Clare. Since then his phone has been switched off. He is about 5ft 11in, and was lean and tanned and was wearing a dark blue check shirt and white T-shirt.

In 2003 the Gardai created "acceptable" and "unacceptable" cases of missing persons. The two new terms distinguished between adults for whom there was no apparent risk, and more vulnerable people who had gone missing, such as children, the elderly or mentally ill. This was revised into three categories: A, B and C, with category A comprising children or situations in which foul play or suicide is suspected, and categories B and C comprising adults who may have disappeared of their own volition.

As the continuing Madeleine McCann saga has shown, a missing child tends to capture the public and media attention more readily than a missing adult. In Ireland, missing children are rare but a few cases have remained open despite all efforts to find the youngsters involved. Rory Aherne has been missing from Dublin since 1984, when he was 17. His family have put a message for him on the Missing Persons website, in the hope that he might read it.

And Philip Cairns was just 13 when he vanished on October 23, 1986. His disappearance sparked a massive manhunt, but despite occasional reports of progress in the case, Philip has not been seen since. His family continue to hope that one day he will be found alive.

Donal Lynch Tel: 086-8370861

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