Details of 44 unsolved human remains cases released

A list giving details of 44 unidentified sets of human remains found at locations across Ireland has just been published by the Department of Justice in the hope that the publicity may help in identification of the deceased people.

It is the first time the list has been published, and it is based on information provided by Coroners around the country.

According to the department, of the 44 unidentified remains, DNA profiles in 28 of the cases are on the National DNA Database.

“The Department of Justice intends to arrange for samples of the remaining 16 unidentified remains to be attained where possible, and FSI will attempt to extract DNA from these samples and upload DNA profiles to the National DNA Database,” the department said today, Tuesday.

However, it continued, given the complexities associated with historical remains, this process is expected to take some time to complete.

The Department has revealed that there are currently approximately 856 unsolved missing persons cases live on the Garda Pulse system.

“While the vast majority of missing persons cases are resolved quickly, many can remain unsolved for long periods of time,” the department has said this week, stating that it is acutely conscious of the impact that a person going missing has on their family, friends and loved ones, and is committed to doing everything possible to ensure families have the best chance of having these cases resolved.

Advancements in DNA profiling have led to case breakthroughs in recent years. The provision of a DNA profile to Forensic Science Ireland by family members of a missing person can assist in solving unidentified bodies and missing person cases.

“With this in mind, in December 2022, Coroners were asked to return updated details of any unidentified remains for their coronial district as part of their annual statutory returns to the Minister for Justice,” the department statement reads.

It continues: “Minister McEntee committed to publishing this data once collated. Today, the Department of Justice is publishing the information returned by the Coroners, which may assist in the identification of the remains, for the first time.”

The department established a forum in July 2021 alongside An Garda Síochána’s Missing Persons Unit and Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) to facilitate information exchange on unidentified remains. The Unidentified Remains database has been compiled following an analysis of Coroners records.

While the data being published today comprises the first full list of unidentified remains, additional cases may come to light. As a result, the department said, it intends to publish updates to the unidentified remains data on an annual basis.

Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, An Garda Síochána said that Operation Runabay which was established in 2017 by the Missing Persons Unit, has a particular focus on advancing the investigation of cases involving unidentified persons discovered along the western coast of the United Kingdom. In recent years, the Missing Persons Unit has expanded this operation to include greater co-operation with the British National Crime Agency and other neighbouring jurisdictions, exchanging information related to missing persons and unidentified human remains both at home and in other jurisdictions.

Chris Enright, Director of Forensic Science Ireland said: “Forensic Science Ireland continues to work closely with the Missing Persons Bureau of An Garda Síochána. In 2022 FSI assisted in 74 Missing Persons cases where DNA reference samples from family members were submitted to FSI for DNA profiling and uploaded to the National DNA Database. FSI assisted in the identification of 12 Missing Persons in 2022. Forensic Science Ireland remains committed to continuously developing the science and technology available in support of Missing Person investigations.”

The dataset on unidentified remains can be found at