Prime Time - 16th September, 2013

Monday 16 September 2013 16.15
Prime Time - 16th September, 2013

Barry Cummins blogs ahead of his report tonight.

The discovery of the skeletal remains of a woman found in a forested area of Killakee in south County Dublin last Friday has focused public attention on the cases of Ireland's missing women.

While it now appears that the woman may have died within recent years, the initial suspicion was that the body might have been one of the women who vanished in Leinster in the 1990s and who may have been the victim of a serial killer.

A total of 10 women vanished across Leinster from 1991 to 1998. The bodies of two of those women were found - Patricia Doherty vanished from Tallaght in 1991, her body was found buried in the Dublin mountains the following June; and Marie Kilmartin vanished from Portlaoise in 1993 and her body was found submerged in bog water six months later on the Laois/Offaly border.

Neither of those murders has been solved, nor has there been any breakthrough in the cases of the eight missing women - Annie McCarrick and Eva Brennan vanished from Dublin in March and July 1994; Imelda Keenan vanished from Waterford in 1994, Jo Jo Dullard disappeared from Kildare in 1995, Fiona Pender from Offaly in 1996, Ciara Breen in 1997 from Dundalk, and Fiona Sinnott in 1998 from Wexford and Deirdre Jacob from Newbridge, also in 1998.

Deirdre's disapperance came ten years after the discovery of the body of Antoinette Smith, buried in the Dublin mountains. She was last seen in Dublin in July 1987 and her killer was never caught.

Deirdre Jacob's disappearance finally led to the setting up of Operation Trace, where Gardai tried to establish if a serial killer might be responsible for some of the disappearances.

On tonight's Prime Time at 10.35pm we get access to that ongoing investigation, interviewing the Garda in charge.

We establish that detectives do not believe that 3 of those unsolved cases are linked, but are still considering that the other cases may be linked.

We interview some of the families of the missing women who continue to suffer the agony of not knowing where the bodies of their loved ones lie hidden.

We also broadcast home video footage of Annie McCarrick, kindly given to Prime Time by Annie's mother Nancy.

Over this past weekend, Nancy McCarrick, along with the families of all the missing women were contacted by Gardai alerting them to the discovery of the female skeletal remains in the Dublin mountains.

While it now appears that those remains are more likely that of a different missing woman, the discovery brings into stark focus the ongoing suffering of the families of the long term missing women.

Barry Cummins

Prime Time, tonight, RTÉ 1, 22:35