Call to change laws on missing people

Wednesday 30 January 2013 21.03
The Law Reform Commission is making 19 proposals on missing people
The Law Reform Commission is making 19 proposals on missing people

Proposals to change the laws in relation to missing people have been made by the Law Reform Commission.

Measures that allow families access to the missing person’s finances and the ability to get a death certificate are among the recommendations that will be put to Government.

Around 8,000 people are reported missing in Ireland every year.

Many of them turn up within a short time, but about 1% remain missing in the longer term.

Families of missing people can face practical problems as well as emotional trauma.

They are unable to access and administer the missing person’s finances.

In most cases they get a certificate of presumed death rather than a death certificate, meaning the spouse of a missing person cannot be declared a widow or widower.

The Law Reform Commission is recommending 19 changes, including a way for families to apply to be allowed to administer the affairs of a person after they have been missing for 90 days.

Another proposal would allow families to eventually obtain a death certificate, with provisions for the missing person to have property given back to them if they return.

Missing in Ireland, which represents families left behind, said the new laws would simplify things for families at a time of real distress and hardship.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government will consider the recommendations "in due course" and then announce its decisions.