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Frank O'Neill spoke about the impact of his brother's disappearance on his family.
Frank O'Neill spoke about the impact of his brother's disappearance on his family.

'Only those who have endured it know the unhappiness': Families mark National Missing Persons Day

There are 813 open missing persons cases in Ireland.
Dec 2nd 2020, 5:30 PM 10,116 6

NATIONAL MISSING PERSONS Day was marked this year with a virtual ceremony, with families urging each other not to lose hope that they will someday get answers.

Participating in the ceremony was Frank O’Neill, whose brother Jimmy has been missing for 73 years.

“My father died in 1966 I’d say truthfully of a broken heart of my missing brother, who went missing on the 15th of December 1947, aged 16,” he said.

O’Neill said a woman in the same ward as his mother when she died said she cried out for Jimmy “all night before died”.

“Only those who have endured it know the unhappiness that’s created with a missing person.”

O’Neill said he just wants to find out how his brother died and where he is buried.

“Why are those people that are out there, that know something about missing people, why are they depriving the loved ones of that little bit of leeway to try to advance their case?”

Though he has been waiting for and fighting for answers about his brother’s disappearance for 73 years, he said he has not given up hope.

“You don’t ever give up hope, hope is a major factor in my life,” he said. “Keep up your spirits and talk amongst your family, make sure the person in question is never forgotten.”

Peter Lynch, whose father went missing in January 2002 also shared his family’s story today.

Michael ‘Tony’ Lynch’s remains were found earlier this year, after he had been missing for 18 years.

Lynch said his father had struggled with depression and one day he came home from school to find out his father had disappeared.

“It was tough for my mother and tough for the younger siblings, it was tough on us all,” he said.

This year, with advances in drone and sonar technology, gardaí were promoted to carry out fresh searches of nearby lakes for his car. However searches had to be suspended due to Covid-19. Then, a local fisherman spotted a strange image in Lough Erne on his sonar equipment.

Lynch got a call to say his father’s car had been pulled from the lake.

“I didn’t think it would hit me like that, I just had never thought about it or knew what to expect,” he said.

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“It was nice, once Dad was found again then everybody wanted to talk to you about him, and it’s great now that there is a grave to go to. I never thought we’d have that.”

He said he hopes his family’s story gives some hope to other families.

Source: Department of Justice Ireland/YouTube

Speaking today, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee appealed to the public to help families by providing information about their loved ones if they know something about their case.

“This year we have all felt the particular impact of not knowing when we will next be able to be around those who we love,” she said.

“In this time, I think it’s appropriate that we remember the unimaginable distress faced by the families and friends of missing persons. As of the 23rd November 2020, 813 Missing Person cases remain “open” investigations with An Garda Síochána.

Thousands of people go missing across Ireland every year. Thankfully, the vast majority are found safe and well. However, there are others who simply never come home. Today we remember them, and we offer our thoughts to their friends and families.

“This yearly ceremony provides a national platform to those affected by this ambiguous loss to raise awareness of Ireland’s missing persons. It provides a space for families to speak from the heart about their loved ones, and to encourage those with potential information to come forward.

“I would call on all members of the public to listen to these stories, and to think about whether you can help with their appeals.”

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Michelle Hennessy

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