Updated: 28/07/17 : 05:45:21
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Body buried in Wales may be retired garda's father

A retired Garda has said that a body buried unidentified in Wales 32 years ago may be his father.

Alan Dowley says his father Brendan was last seen getting on a bus in Kilkenny in October 1985. The bus was heading for the ferry in Dun Laoghaire for onward travel to Holyhead.

Alan Dowley told RTÉ Prime Time that he has recently given a DNA sample to Gardaí to be compared with a body washed up in Wales in November 1985.

The development follows a re-investigation of the case by Welsh police which has established that a number of surgical scars on the unidentified body seem to match Brendan Dowley’s medical history.

“We were aware back at the time of the body found in Wales, but this was a time before DNA,” Alan Dowley told RTÉ Prime Time.

The programme reported on an ongoing Garda initiative, called Operation Runabay, which is seeking to establish how many Irish bodies may be among the 600 unidentified bodies buried in cemeteries in Britain.

114 of those unidentified bodies were recovered from the western British seaboard, fuelling a belief that some may be people who drowned in Irish waters, and whose bodies were swept across the Irish Sea.

Alan Dowley, who now works with the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), told RTÉ Prime Time's reporter Barry Cummins that the family had been aware in the mid 1980s of the body found in Wales, but forensics were not as advanced at that time to allow for it to be identified.

“In 1986 Welsh police had looked for my father’s dental records but we did not have them. Things seemed to fizzle out after that. There was no way to identify the body.”

Alan Dowley, spent 32 years as a Garda, working in Drogheda and then Dunboyne. He said he had dealt with many missing persons cases, while having his own father’s case at the back of his mind.

“When my father went missing I had conducted my own enquiries and then submitted a file to Garda Headquarters, and they had sent it to Interpol.”

In recent months Alan Dowley contacted Welsh police once again to enquire about the unidentified case.

“I gave my DNA recently to Sergeant Richie Lynch in the Garda Missing Persons Bureau and I’m now waiting to see when the body in Wales might be exhumed for a DNA comparison to be carried out. I would encourage any other family of a missing person to give their DNA if they haven’t done so yet. Each of these unidentified bodies is someone’s loved one”.

Detective Superintendent Michael Daly told RTÉ Prime Time that a number of cases of missing Irish people were currently being examined to see if they might be among the unidentified bodies in Britain.


“I would appeal to any family missing a loved one who has not yet given a DNA sample to contact us. It’s a non invasive process and we are working with police in Britain to try and resolve any cases we can. I believe some of the bodies in Britain are Irish.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Garda Missing Persons Bureau can do so at missing_persons@garda.ie