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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019
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'The only time I will feel any better is when I have a coffin and a burial'

Sandra Collins has been missing for 15 years.

sandra collins Source: Patrick Collins

SANDRA COLLINS WAS last seen on 4 December 2000, at the age of 28.

Her family, from Crossmolina, Co Mayo, believe she was killed that date at the pier in Killala. Now they have placed a plaque in her memory at the pier – but say their fight to reclaim her body and give her a Christian burial is stronger than ever.

Patrick Collins, Sandra’s brother, told TheJournal.ie: “The pier was always somewhere Sandra liked to go, even when we were small.”

The family believe she died there, and after the trial of a man accused of her murder – he was acquitted – concluded last year, they decided to pay tribute to her life.

FullSizeRender (4) Source: Patrick Collins

“She had a life; she lived; she had a family. We decided this trial can’t go unmarked,” said her brother. “We just wanted people to know that we loved her and we still love her and we’re looking for her.”

Official unveiling

It took the family “a long time” to get back on their feet after the trial. They received permission from the local council to put a marble plaque to Sandra – which contains her photo, a poem and family details – on the pier wall.

The plaque will be officially unveiled at a ceremony this Sunday at 2.20pm, following a service at St Tiernan’s Church in Crossmolina at 12.30pm.

Patrick Collins said that the plaque is a way of giving his missing sister her voice back. “On 4 December her voice was silenced,” he said. “Her voice is back in the community of Killala.”

But, he cautioned:

At the same time it doesn’t ease the pain. I can’t go away now and go ‘I can stop looking for you Sandra’; it doesn’t mean in any way we’re giving up.

The family believe Sandra is buried in the local area. “This is giving us the momentum to spur us on more. There is never going to come a time when we give up.”

It’s a constant reminder of the horrific act that was done against Sandra here.

Do you have information?

An appeal is ongoing for locals to share any information – no matter how small – with the gardaí. “I don’t know why people are shielding someone they shouldn’t be shielding,” said Patrick.

“The only time I will feel any better is when I have a coffin and a burial,” said Patrick. “So many times I have thought ‘I wish I could plan your funeral’.”

FullSizeRender (5) Source: Patrick Collins

He recalled how his sister was a “quiet and kind” person who is remembered by locals.

“I’ve thought to myself does the person who knows [where Sandra is], go down there  [to the pier] and look at it and think oh my God’. “It reminds them of what they done that horrible wet evening.”

“I hope it’s a haunting reminder for whoever is responsible and whoever is shielding them. She didn’t deserve to die.”

Gardaí received phone calls last year after a Christmas appeal, which Patrick said gave the family “more hope and spurred us on”.

“We are as determined to find her a we were the day she died,” said Patrick.

The only day that whoever knows what happened to Sandra, the only time they can relax is when the day comes that the five of us [in her family] are dead.

Patrick Collins said that “everybody has been so good to us and helpful” in the local community. Many people donated things for the memorial event, which further cemented the family’s gratitude.

He added that his sister would be “so touched and honoured” by people’s kindness.

Anyone with information about Sandra Collins can contact the helpline (independent of An Garda Siochána) ‘searching for the missing’, on 085 209 2119; Ballina Gardaí on 096 20560; or Killala Gardaí 096 32111. The Garda Confidential Line can also be called anonymously on 1800 666111.

Read: “The hurt is unbelievable”: A family searches for missing Sandra. Can you help?>

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