Michael Jacob the father of missing Newbridge woman Deirdre Jacob made a direct plea to gardai yesterday that more needs to be done for families of missing people.
He made the impromptu speech at the fifth National Missing Persons Day, which was held in Farmleigh House in Dublin yesterday, December 6, 2017.
“I felt very strongly about it,” said Michael speaking to the Leader today.
“I only decided to address the crowd after the last person’s speech, which was the Deputy Garda Commissioner. I had planned it but only Bernie knew I was going to say something.”
Michael highlighted the fact that more garda resources needs to be given to missing persons and to their families.
“I said that I felt that there are many areas during the investigation that needs to be improved,” he said.
“As the investigation is ongoing family members need to be more involved and not just by being kept updated but by having more of an input. When there is a sighting for example the description is often given third hand so mannerisms and characteristics of that person are not communicated. A family member will know very quickly from a description but when the information given is third hand it often doesn’t resonate.”
He added that he felt not enough gardai are aware of the importance of keeping a lookout for a missing person in their area.
“This is because gardai move stations a lot and there is no dedicated unit for missing cases as opposed to cold cases for example. When a person goes missing the local gardai are on it and in some cases this will be the first missing case they have worked on. If you look at Newbridge has someone gone missing since Deirdre? if someone goes missing it is often a new venture for the gardai. The training in Templemore should have a number of modules on how to handle a missing persons case.”
Deirdre was 18-years-old at the time when she went missing on 28 July 1998. She was last seen walking into Newbridge town to get a bank draft. Despite numerous public appeals over the years, no trace of Deirdre has ever been found.
Michael directed his speech to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, and said that there is only so much the families can do.
"We need help,” he said. "I picked up on the fact that there are many cases of missing people for five, ten, 20, 30, 40 and even one case for 70 years, with little or no progress made. I was speaking for all the families of missing people I didn’t mention Deirdre. Gardai across the country need to be much more proactive in advertising the fact that a person has gone missing - a notice board outside the station with information about the missing person and contact numbers. Gardai should also be active on select days on the street searching for information about the missing person.”
He explained that the help that is required is sufficient resources made available to An Garda Síochána, to put in place a full-time, dedicated team of determined investigators to investigate the missing. A team that will engage with families in a sympathetic, sensitive and inclusive manner.
Meanwhile Deputy Commissioner John Twomey also addressed the ceremony, describing the pain felt by families of the missing as “shapeless” and “terrifying”.
He said the hope that comes with possible developments in a case can be “a torture”, particularly when nothing comes of new information.
Although he said investigations take more time than gardaí would like sometimes, he told families this time can be necessary to ensure the job is done properly.