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It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

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It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 21.03.11 11:07

As Kate McCann prepares to publish a book about her daughter Madeleine's disappearance, Celine Naughton reports on the anguish that families go through when a loved one disappears

Monday March 21 2011

On May 12, Kate McCann will publish a book recounting the nightmare of her daughter Madeleine's abduction from a holiday apartment in Portugal four years ago.

The publication date was chosen as it is Madeleine's eighth birthday and Kate and her husband Gerry hope that the proceeds will boost their daughter's search fund and prompt somebody with new information to come forward.

"Every penny we raise through sales will be spent on our search for Madeleine," says Kate.

"Nothing is more important to us than finding our little girl."

Convinced that their daughter is still alive, the McCanns continue to do all they can to keep the search for Madeleine going, yet hundreds of missing children worldwide have only a brief moment in the spotlight before falling quietly from public consciousness.

Two of the most famous cases in this country are those ofMary Boyle, who disappeared at the age of six in Roscommon on March 18, 1977 -- while following her uncle through a field to a neighbouring farm, she turned back and was never seen again -- and Philip Cairns, the 13-year-old who went missing on his way to school in Dublin on October 23, 1986.

Yet hundreds of other children have also disappeared. 'Separated children' are defined as children outside their country of origin and separated from their parents or guardian.

From 2000 to 2010, 515 of these children went missing inIreland and, while numbers are dropping since new measures were introduced last year to improve the quality of their care and protection, 440 remain unaccounted for.

The ISPCC has been calling for Ireland to implement the European telephone number for missing children -- 116 000 -- since 2008. It is operational in 12 EU states, but not here.

"A borderless Europe can be hazardous for missing children," says Rhona McGinn, ISPCC spokesperson.

"The European hotline is a vital service for missing children and their families, whether they have been abducted, run [color:2824=#009900 !important]away
, lost or taken by a parent.

"We can see how well it is used in other countries and we hope that the new Government will make its implementation here a priority."

For all families of missing children, the heartache of not knowing where they are or what has happened to them is unrelenting.

Will they some day re-emerge like American schoolgirl Jaycee Lee Dugard and Austrian Natascha Kampusch, who were found years after being kidnapped? Have they been killed? Did they suffer?

These questions torment families of missing persons of all ages every day of their lives.

These are some of the people in this country who know all too well the heartache that comes to stay when a loved one disappears.

The Father

'We just want to give him a decent burial'

Bob Shanahan from Limerick pleads for information about his son Aengus, known to his friends as Gussie, who went missing 11 years ago.

The last time he saw his son, the youngest of two boys and two girls, was Friday, February 11, 2000. He had just turned 20 the previous month.

"He was wearing the new clothes he'd got for his birthday to go to a disco with his pals," Mr Shanahan says.

"He was in great form as he told me he'd be staying that night with his friends.

"But instead of walking down the main street as he normally did, that night he took a short cut along a laneway through the back of the church.

"I wasn't unduly alarmed when he didn't come [color:2824=#009900 !important]home
on the Saturday, but when he still hadn't returned on the Sunday, I got worried. We searched all around the town, but there was no sign.

"There are three reasons a person goes missing -- he goes away of his own free will, he feels suicidal, or he's taken, murdered and hidden.

"I don't believe Aengus went of his own free will. He was very close to his mother and he wouldn't have done that to her.

"I don't believe he was suicidal. Aengus was the kind of lad who wouldn't spend five minutes in his own company, was always full of chat and was really excited that evening about going out with his pals.

"So all I'm left with is that he was taken and murdered and his body hidden.

"Nancy, my wife, suffered a stroke and I have no doubt it was caused by stress. To this day she still asks over and over, 'Is there any news?' First thing in the morning and last thing at night. 'Is there any news?'

"We believe that somebody in Limerick knows where his body lies and I am pleading with them to tell us where it is.

"After 11 years, we need specific details, not just a general area. We're not looking for justice. We just want to give him a decent burial. There is no closure for us until then.

"If that person could contact us anonymously and tell us exactly where to look, it would be very, very much appreciated."

Anybody with information about Aengus Shanahan can call in the strictest of confidence 085 209 2119 or email

The Cousin

'we're still none the wiser about gussie'

Fr Aquinas Duffy, a cousin of Aengus, set up the website in 2000 to try and find his missing relative.

"At the time there was no website for missing persons and while it helped to locate many other missing people found over the years, we're still none the wiser about Gussie," he says.

"Somebody made a series of calls suggesting he had been murdered. We would like that person to contact us again, because we need more detail to resolve this case.

"I don't understand how somebody would have the answer and still remain silent.

"We accept that Gussie is dead, we just want to give him a Christian burial.

"If they could see the ordeal the whole family has gone through, they would surely come forward.

"Every year, 8,000 people in this country go missing. That is a phenomenal number for a small island.

"People find themselves in a no-man's land of not knowing and there is no end to it.

"Your imagination runs away with you, thinking of the worst things that could have happened. Families want to know one way or another, not to be left in limbo."

For further information visit

The 24-hour National Missing Persons Helpline is 1890 442 552 and its website is

The Searcher

'these parents live in a black hole of torment'

Tosh Lavery was involved in hundreds of searches and rescues before he retired from the garda diving unit after 30 years.

Last year, he and other volunteers set up, a registered charity that reaches out to families of missing persons long after official searches have ended.

"The gardai search for a certain amount of time and then they have to get on with other work, and the families are left with nothing," says Tosh.

"That's where we step in. We speak with the families, listen to them, provide counselling and try to get information for them. All families want is information, but all they get is turmoil.

"When a parent realises that a child has wandered off in a shopping centre, they feel a pain in the pit of their stomach. That's what some parents feel for 20 years or more.

"It's the last thing they think of when they go to bed and the first thing they think of in the morning -- and the thought is always the same: are they being harmed? These parents live in a black hole of torment and despair.

"There are three stages a family goes through when a loved one goes missing -- first is hope that they'll be found, followed by a search for information and finally, reconciliation. Families don't want retribution, just the remains of their loved one.

"Mary Boyle's father Charlie was drowned in a fishing accident five years ago. When they recovered his body, the rescue team saw his life jacket flip open and 'Mary' was written along the side.

"That man died never knowing what happened to his daughter and the rest of the family have carried the pain for 34 years. This is what it's like for all families of missing persons. It's heartbreaking."

For further information visit or call the 24-hour confidential line on 085 209 2119

- Celine Naughton

Irish Independent

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Re: It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 21.03.11 11:10

They didn't seem too fussed about the pain of not knowing if Eddie was right or not. Didn't they just make up excuses for the stench of death instead of demanding to know whose stench it was?

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Re: It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by ufercoffy on 21.03.11 11:22

Yup, those doggies findings certainly didn't tear her heart to shreds.

Whose cadaver scent and bodily fluid was found in the McCann's apartment and hire car if not Madeleine's?  Shocked

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Re: It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by aiyoyo on 21.03.11 14:18

I wonder how long they're going to keep up this fundraising --pretending they didnt know what happened to her - until Maddie's remains is found .......?

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Re: It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by Magpie on 22.03.11 14:46

Well, is the borders in Europe topic part of the game?

And, public questions the the McCanns: why don't you answer the police questions Ms Kate Healy and why don't you both ask your friends to take 2 days to do the police reconstruction with you?
Both of the actions WOULD re-open the case so why don't you?

-as Get'M-Goncalo said, you don't question these facts but instead you rush too find "explanations", I do NOT believe you. You played on your doctor status to "explain" the forensics, you ask your family to back you up in "shrimps" and "dirty nappies" explanations -while well airing the car for days!- You pretended, Kate, that you took your daughter's teddy toy to work with you, while you dealt with 6 corpses.... and that you use your professional clothes on holiday too. Kate Healy and erald McCann, how are commonsense people supposed to believe you?

-Maddy's health data you STILL refuse to give this to the police, why?

-You hide your bank statements also, why? Who paid for the extra bedroom for your two couples of friends at the Ocean Club, and why?

You can try to fool the public saying the truth will be in your book, and that the profits will be to "look for Madeleine", but you are only fooling yourselves.


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Re: It's the pain of not knowing that tears your heart to shreds

Post by Magpie on 23.03.11 6:34

I think they should have titled this "It's a pain KNOWING".

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