Cork Students Travel to Dublin to Meet President Higgins

The title holders of Young Social Innovators of the Year 2012 from Davis College, Mallow, Co. Cork, were invited today to Áras an Uachtaráin by President Michael D Higgins to be personally congratulated by him on their award-winning and outstanding efforts to help the families and communities of missing people in Ireland. The YSI students, whose project was entitled ‘Forget Me Not’, are delighted at the recent announcement by Minister Alan Shatter that Ireland would be holding its first annual Missing Persons Day in December this year. A spokesperson for the Young Social Innovators team said, “We are delighted that after two years of campaigning a national day for Missing Persons has been announced. The issue of missing people became very personal to all of the students involved in this campaign. The recent announcement by Minister Shatter gives us great encouragement and we hope that others will be inspired by our project”. The national ‘Forget Me Not’ campaign was developed through the students’ participation in the YSI Social Innovation Programme and was a continuation of the work begun by the school’s previous Transition Year YSI team, ‘Missing Persons’. It aimed to highlight the plight of the families of missing people, to support organisations that help in searching for missing people, and to introduce an innovative Exit Point Strategy bringing public attention to the issue of missing people through a poster and placement campaign in Irish airports, ports, and ferry terminals. A strong feature of the team’s campaign was a call for a national day for missing persons to be introduced in Ireland. The ambitious students lobbied the government with a petition signed by over 12,000 people calling for the introduction of a National Missing Persons Day. They implemented a bus shelter campaign and erected a billboard in Merrion Square, Dublin, making a personal appeal for the Taoiseach’s backing of the measure. They also addressed a joint committee on Justice, Defence and Equality in the Dail. The campaign has garnered widespread political and media support with appearances by the students on Ireland AM and TG4 and meetings with political leaders including Alan Shatter, Sean Sherlock, and President Higgins. Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeline has been missing for several years, was one of many to congratulate the group’s effort, saying “The one thing that unsettles us the most is the thought that that very special person in your life could be forgotten. It is a real comfort to know that there are kind and committed people out there…who are trying so hard to ensure this doesn’t happen. Thank you!”

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