Belfast Telegraph

Call for missing children alert

An Oireachtas watchdog has demanded the urgent setting up of an "Amber Alert" system for missing or kidnapped children more than three years after it got the go-ahead.

Former justice minister Dermot Ahern signed off on a US-style rapid response scheme, which would quickly spread the alarm when youngsters are feared abducted, in April 2009.

The order came on the back of a Garda Inspectorate report which made 18 recommendations, including the need for gardai to work more closely with the media and overseas police forces.

More than three years later, the chief recommendation of a joint Oireachtas committee investigation into missing persons is for the alert system to be "introduced as a matter of urgency".

Dara Calleary, Fianna Fail justice spokesman and member of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, criticised the delay.

"It is not acceptable," he said. "But I hope that the fact there is all-party agreement now and we've all worked on this together that it will put further impetus behind it."

Mr Calleary said there should be no further delays in the introduction of the system.

The Mayo TD also called for better co-operation between the Garda and international police on missing persons, including improved communications, sharing of resources and technology.

More than 100 children remain on Ireland's missing persons list, it was revealed during hearings of the Oireachtas committee.

Of the 114 children reported missing over the past five years and who have still not been found, 106 vanished while under state care.

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