Just 14 unsolved crimes are under review by the dedicated Garda team
Fourteen cold case crimes are under investigation by the Garda’s Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), prompting calls for more resources to be provided for the unit to meet family demand.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee, confirmed the number of cases being investigated by the SCRT in the Dáil last week. She was replying to a parliamentary question from Bernard Durkan, Fine Gael TD for Kildare.
He asks the question on an almost annual basis, to highlight the need for more resources for the unit. However, he has not always been told how many of the cases are under review.
Mr Durkan said this weekend the unit needs to be better resourced to bring offenders to justice and bring closure for families. “We need to reassure the public,” he said. “Individual families are anxious to know if something is being done about an unsolved crime that affects them. They are anxious for up-to-date information.”
Families in Limerick have consistently called for the city to have a dedicated cold case unit because of what is perceived to be a high number of unsolved murders in the region.
Willie O’Dea, a former Fianna Fáil justice minister, has supported their call.
The unsolved murders in the city include that of Jeffrey Hannan, whose case has been recently reviewed by Limerick gardaí but has not been taken up by the SCRT, despite campaigning by his father.
The 19-year-old was beaten to death with a hatchet close to his home in 2007.
The family of missing teenager Amy Fitzpatrick is also campaigning for the SCRT to take on her case.
Amy, who was 15, vanished without trace in the Costa Del Sol in Spain 14 years ago while walking home. Her disappearance has baffled investigators.
Her aunt, Christine Kenny, has called on the Garda authorities to launch a cold case review now, because she was a child and an Irish citizen and “is entitled to be fought for”.
Christy Mangan, a former head of the SCRT, recently told the Sunday Independent of the important roles families play in keeping cold cases alive.
He revealed that the sister of Irene White, who was stabbed to death in 2005, had relentlessly lobbied the unit to investigate her murder. The cold case team uncovered the evidential path that ultimately led to the conviction of two men for Ms White’s murder.
Gardaí have declined to identify all 14 unsolved crimes currently on the cold case books.
The unit is known to be looking at the murder of 19-year-old Una Lynskey in 1971. Gardaí have already apologised for the miscarriage of justice that led to the wrongful conviction of Martin Conmey for her killing.
It is also examining the killings of Garda Gary Sheehan and Private Patrick Kelly, who were shot dead as they searched Derrada Woods in Leitrim for kidnapped businessman Don Tidey in 1983.
Mr Tidey was kidnapped by the IRA and held captive for 23 days.
Claims that the two men were killed by state weapons have been dismissed by An Garda Síochána.
The unit is actively investigating the disappearance of Esra Uyrun, a 38-year-old mother who vanished without trace on February 23, 2011. She left her home in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, to buy milk at 7.15am but never reached the shop. Her Renault Twingo was later found at the bottom of Bray Head.
The cold case team recently completed reviews of Deirdre Jacob and Jo Jo Dullard, who vanished in the Leinster region during the 1990s.