Families unite in march to raise case of missing Fiona
The families of some of Ireland's missing gathered in solidarity yesterday during an emotional remembrance walk for Fiona Pender, who has been missing for 16 years.
The then 25-year-old hairdresser and part-time model was seven months pregnant when her family last saw her at her apartment on Church Street in Tullamore, Co Offaly, on August 22, 1996.
Just over a year before her disappearance, Fiona's brother Mark was killed in a motorcycle accident. Her father Sean took his own life in 2000 -- a death her mother Josephine attributes to his heartbreak over the loss of his children.
Fiona's remaining brother John was joined by other families of the missing during the event.
They included the mother of Philip Cairns, the Dublin boy who was just 13 when he vanished in 1986; relatives of Imelda Keenan, the Waterford woman missing since 1994; and family members of Mary Boyle, Ireland's longest missing person who was aged six when she disappeared from Co Donegal 35 years ago.
The march was organised to celebrate what would have been Fiona's 41st birthday and to urge those with information on her disappearance to finally come forward.
Fiona's brother John told the crowd: "All we can do is appeal. We are at our wits' end and I know that it would make our dreams come true to be able to just give Fiona a decent burial."
Josephine said her "years of a nightmare" could be ended if someone could let her know where the remains of Fiona and her unborn baby are buried.
She revealed earlier this month that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has assigned a detective superintendent to review Fiona's disappearance.
According to Dermot Browne of Missingpersons.ie, 10 people are reported missing in Ireland every day.
"Thankfully most are located in a short period of time. Unfortunately there is a small group of people whose lives will be effected forever.
"It's sad to think that there is somebody out there who has the power to bring this to an end and who persists in their silence," he added.
"I implore them now in the name of decency to please pass along any information which would assist in the location of Fiona and her unborn child."
The remembrance walk ended with the release of 41 pink-and-white balloons in memory of Fiona and her unborn baby.
Missingpersons.ie runs a confidential helpline at 1890 442552.