Dáil Éireann debate –
Thursday, 13 Jul 2023

Vol. 1042 No. 2

Ceisteanna ar Pholasaí nó ar Reachtaíocht – Questions on Policy or Legislation

Deputy Brendan Smith

Today marks the third anniversary of the disappearance in Portugal of Jean Tighe. Jean is a member of a very popular and highly regarded Cavan family who are friends of mine. The family have sought every possible assistance to locate Jean. As the Tánaiste knows, I have consistently raised this case with his Department and the Department of Justice. The family appreciate the work of Irish statutory agencies. Despite numerous requests, it took until last Monday to get Jean’s name on the missing persons database. The Portuguese police must answer as to why it took so long to have her registered as a missing person on its administrative database. The family have not received replies from Portuguese authorities as to whether they requested Jean’s bank account records or whether they sought her Facebook and Instagram social media accounts from Meta as part of their investigations. As we all know, these are important and indeed essential investigative and search tools nowadays. What collaboration has there been between the Portuguese police and Interpol? The Tánaiste, the Minister for Justice and all our relevant statutory agencies must insist that the Portuguese authorities answer these very important questions. What we have witnessed to date is totally unacceptable. This investigation must be absolutely comprehensive and thorough. We want to see Jean back with her loving family, who are distraught with the very difficult situation they have been put through over the past three years.

The Tánaiste

I appreciate that the circumstances of this case are very difficult and traumatic for the Tighe family. The Deputy has raised this matter with me previously and has been in touch with my officials. The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular support to the family. The Embassy of Ireland in Lisbon is engaged with the Portuguese authorities on the case and has raised the family’s concerns. The embassy is in ongoing contact with the Garda liaison officer based in Portugal on the case. The family has an appointed family liaison officer in Ireland through An Garda Síochána who assists the family in their contact with the Portuguese police. As with all missing person cases, the responsibility for investigation lies with the relevant policing authority. I am aware of the deep concerns of the family in respect of how the case is being handled. The Department of Foreign Affairs will continue to provide all possible consular assistance to the family.