'Never leaves you' | 

Retired detective who searched for Ireland’s missing women hasn't given up hope

"I had hoped there might be a little bit more in it, to offer some closure for at least one of the families"

Deirdre Jacob disappeared in July 1998.

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A retired Garda detective who helped search for Ireland’s missing women for 13 years as part of Operation Trace has said he has never given up hope that they would be found.

Alan Bailey, who worked on the operation to investigate the disappearance of several women, including Jo Jo Dullard and Deirdre Jacob, was speaking after searches for both women were concluded.

Gardai said the search of a wooded area in Co Kildare had been completed “with no evidence having been uncovered."

Officers are continuing to keep the families involved updated on the progress of the investigations, however “nothing of evidential value to these investigations was recovered” they added.

A search of a wooded area on the Kildare/Wicklow border for the remains of Deirdre Jacob found nothing ‘of evidential value’, Gardai said (Niall Carson/PA)

A specialist garda and forensic team had been searching the wooded site after a witness reported seeing unusual activity there on the day Deirdre disappeared in July 1998.

Deirdre's disappearance occurred less than three years after Jo Jo Dullard, the other missing woman, disappeared in Moone on November 9, 1995.

Mr Bailey says that while the searches were going on he was “hopeful” that something would come up as a result.

“I had hoped there might be a little bit more in it, to offer some closure for at least one of the families,” he told sundayworld.com.

“There’s was always that little bit of hope, although I know the Garda liaison officers would be talking to the family the whole time, and telling them, ‘be careful, don’t get your hopes up too high’.

Former Detective Sergeant Alan Bailey. Picture by Caroline Quinn

“But at the same time, you have to think that when gardai are taking on a search like this, that they most have some reason for it and some hope of success.”

Mr Bailey, who is also the author of Missing Presumed had earlier described the large-scale search of Usk Little on the Kildare/Wicklow border was a “hugely significant development”.

He still believes even though no trace of the women was found, the fact that the gardai took on these new searches, was a “positive move”.

“Is there still hope that something good will come out of this, that somebody somewhere will say to themselves, ‘well, maybe I should ring because I do have some information that I need to share’.”

He added that he never gives up hope that these cases would be resolved.

“It never leaves you,” he added. “It stays with you forever. Every time there is a search it gives you some hope of resolution and justice being done for the families.

“So, it is a sad day in many respects for the families that these searches have ended now.

“The gardai gave a huge commitment it, what with the numbers involved and all that so you always hope something would come out of it, but it wasn’t to be. Not this time.”

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