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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Gardai search for 7,064 children who went missing in 2014

Audrey Fitzpatrick, at the unveiling of a garden at St Catheraine's Primary school in Artane for her daughter
Audrey Fitzpatrick, at the unveiling of a garden at St Catheraine's Primary school in Artane for her daughter
Amy Fitzpatrick

The mother of teenager Amy Fitzpatrick, who disappeared more than seven years ago, said that parents of missing children are joined together by a bond “that nobody else will understand”.

Dublin girl Amy was 15-years-old when she went missing on January 1, 2008, in Spain and her devastated mother Audrey said yesterday – on International Missing Children’s Day – that she hopes to hold another search for her young daughter in the near future.

Audrey Fitzpatrick, who recently wed her long-term partner Dave Mahon, said she is pushing for “another search and a reconstruction” and that is her “goal” for the coming months.

Audrey002.jpg  

She was speaking about her daughter who vanished yesterday on the global day of remembrance for children who have gone missing.

Gardai said that last year they “investigated 7,064 missing children cases, of which three remain still missing”. 

Ms Fitzpatrick said that she and other families are united in their grief.

“It is a bond between all of us that nobody else will

understand,” she said.

“One of the mothers said to me ‘we are all part of a club that nobody else wants to be a member of’.”

She said that the intervening period since her daughter was last seen has been “frustrating” at times. 

“Nothing to do with the police side of it, it’s to do with letting people know and making people remember,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“At the end of the day, it is always down to the families that have to do this, to push it forward all the time for it to be done.”

Gardai said that they continue to work with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) and this year they contributed to the global poster campaigning, by highlighting the cases of three Irish children – Mary Boyle, Ciara Breen and Rory Aherne – who have all been missing for years. 

Little Mary Boyle was six-years-old when she disappeared in 1977. Ciara Breen was 17 when she was last seen in 1997 and Rory Aherne was 16 when he vanished in 1984.

They said they recognise “that missing children are vulnerable to victimisation, exploitation, violence, criminal activity and self harm”.

Dermot Browne, the chairperson if the Missing in Ireland Support Service (MISS), last night praised the work of the gardai in their efforts to find children who are reported missing.

“Missing children strikes a chord with people... and then we have the CRI Alert system which seems to have been quite successful in the few times it has been used,” Mr Browne said.

“Most of the work [of the gardai] goes unnoticed.”

The Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) runs the Missing Children’s Hotline in Ireland. Last year, they received 220 calls to the number.

hotline

“Since the setup of the Missing Children’s Hotline in 2012, we have worked closely with the gardai in the promotion of the service and in supporting young people who have been reported missing,” Caroline O’Sullivan, the ISPCC Director of Services, said.

“The hotline is there to provide support to children, young people and their families.”

The ISPCC said their callers included children who were thinking of running away from home as well as parents looking for “advice and support about their child being missing”.

Ms Fitzpatrick said they will always appeal for information on Amy’s whereabouts, but she wished people would be aware of Missing Children’s Day. 

“A child goes missing every two minutes in the EU, that’s a lot of kids,” she added.

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