DNA testing

DNA testing identifies missing people

The remains of two people who went missing in Dublin in the 1990s have been identified using new DNA testing methods.

Margaret Glennon, aged 49, from Baldoyle in Dublin went missing in May 1995. Her family made national appeals at the time and have carried out many searches over the years to locate her body. Her remains were eventually found at a location between Swords and Malahide in November 2014. A full DNA profile was extracted and has been matched with members of her family.

James Gallagher from Cabra West was 18 years old when he went missing in February 1999. His mother Teresa Gallagher spoke during National Missing Persons Day last December to say that she continued to live a day at a time since her son’s disappearance. His remains were recovered in Dublin in 2002 but have only just been identified.

National DNA database

The two identifications are the latest in a line of breakthroughs in missing persons cases, and are the result of the National DNA database set up in November 2015. The new DNA testing technology makes it easier to match samples from bodies recovered with living relatives.

Last month gardaí confirmed they used DNA to also positively identify the remains of Aengus Shanahan who went missing in Limerick city in 2001. The remains of the 20-year-old were recovered the following year, but not identified until this year. DNA sampling also identified the remains of a man whose body was found washed up on a Louth beach in 2007 as those of 50-year-old Joseph Reilly who went missing in Dublin in 2006.

More missing persons will be identified as gardaí are now taking DNA samples from families of 220 people on the long-term (more than a year) missing list, said helpline founder Dermot Browne.

“I spoke to a few different families last night and the word hope came back from all of them”, he said. “That’s what we are all about. It is unfortunate that we are looking for remains rather than somebody walking in the front door.”

However, Mr Browne stressed the importance of locating bodies and having a place to bury and mourn those who disappeared.

“Anybody who has a long-term missing loved one is anchored to the past”, he explained.

For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ DNA testing services, please call Customer Services on 0140 29466 or email info@alphabiolabs.ie.