Most minors missing from care in Dublin are Chinese
By Jenny Hauser
The Irish Times, October 5, 2009
Some 80 per cent of minors who are reported missing from State care in Dublin are Chinese teenagers who had sought asylum.
According to the Garda missing persons bureau, 28 Chinese minors have been publicised as missing from the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the past 12 months. Seven other minors were reported missing in the same period: four Africans from Gambia, Somalia, Togo and Nigeria an Iraqi, a Bosnian teenager and an Irish child.
Most of the Chinese minors went missing from HSE-funded residences in Ranelagh and South Circular Road, two of 24 childrens care homes used by the health executive in Dublin.
Sgt Michael Kennedy, from the missing persons bureau, said the number of missing teenagers could be significantly higher than the number of publicised cases. 'In certain circumstances it would be reasonable to presume they are being trafficked,' he added.
All cases of minors disappearing from State care are reported to the Garda, but only a portion of them are publicised at the request of the HSE.
All of the minors reported missing had said they were between 14 and 17 years. As they were under age, they had to be granted leave to land and were taken into the care of the HSE.
In a statement, the HSE said: 'Those who go missing are primarily in the 16-17 age bracket, with very few exceptions, and in many cases they abscond very soon after arriving in the country.
'The suspicion is that many of these children who have gone missing may have pre-planned this with persons unknown prior to entering the country.' It said this might be done with the aim of reuniting with their families either in the State or elsewhere in the EU.
In a request for more details about missing minors, a spokesperson for the HSE Dublin Southeast said often 'zero [information] was being created' due to their immediate disappearance.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration Council Ireland said there was no national register of unaccompanied minors with the effect that services and departments were isolated from one another.
Figures obtained last June by Fine Gael immigration and integration spokesman Denis Naughton TD showed 486 children had gone missing in State care since 2000, of whom 425 remained missing.