A GROUND-breaking project by students from Mallow has been used as a blueprint for the proposed establishment of a Europe wide national missing person's day.
The Forget Me Not missing persons campaign, established by pupils from Davis College, has been held up by the chair of an influential Dail committee as an example of the huge influence one simple idea can have.
David Stanton, the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, made his comments during an address at this week's Mallow Town Council joint policing committee.
"The committee has done a lot of good work in various areas over the past two years, a lot of which has had a major impact. One of the most interesting of those was a discussion we had on the issue of missing persons," said Deputy Stanton.
He said this was prompted by a seminar he attended in Mallow launching the Forget Me Not campaign. "That project was so impressive it subsequently went on the win the Young Social Innovators Award," said Deputy Stanton.
"I was taken by the manner in which the students and teachers presented their work. So much so that I went back to my colleagues on the justice committee and said it was an issue we should be doing something about," said Deputy Stanton.
Following on from that, the committee held a series of hearings with input from Davis College students, other missing persons groups, gardai and search and rescue units from across the country.
The committee's report was then presented to the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter.
"On the basis of that report he has decided than from this year on the first Wednesday in December will be National Missing Persons Day," said Deputy Stanton.
He said Minister Shatter had taken the idea to his European counterparts and there are now moves afoot to create a Europe-wide national missing persons day.
"That whole concept originated here in Mallow through the initiative of the students in the town. It goes to show that any person who has an idea can make a difference to the lives of so many people," said Deputy Stanton.