Police have taken the unprecedented step of publishing a photograph of a missing child who turned up distressed on a city centre street.
Despite several weeks of investigation, and following 115 lines of inquiry, detectives in Ireland remain baffled about the identity of the young girl.
It is believed she is either 14 or 15 years old and European. She has been taken into State care.
The girl was found on Dublin’s O’Connell Street - the Irish capital’s main shopping thoroughfare - in a dazed state by gardai on a routine afternoon patrol on October 10.
Superintendent Dave Taylor said she has limited English and has drawn some sketches in an attempt to communicate her ordeal, which remains a mystery to investigators.
“This investigation has involved over 2,000 hours, engaging with all the relevant authorities and all the relevant specialists in this area, but unfortunately we have been unable to identify her,” he said.
“At the moment we need to find out who this child is.”
The girl is described as being 5ft 6in and of slim build with long blonde hair.
She was wearing a purple hooded top, tight dark-coloured jeans, flat black shoes and a grey woollen jumper when found.
It is believed the clothes were bought in major Irish retailers but detectives could not determine when they were purchased.
The girl also has a brace but paediatric orthodontists contacted in Ireland were unable to shed any light on her identity through their records.
Gardai have set up an investigation codenamed Operation Shepard in attempt to establish the girl’s identity.
A dedicated telephone line and email address is being manned by officers for any information from the public which can help the inquiry.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the team in Dublin on +353 1 666 8100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a move never before undertaken, the force went to the High Court last week to seek permission under the Child Care Act to release a photograph of the girl.
Lawyers argued that it was in extraordinary circumstances after the investigation “hit a brick wall”.
Mr Taylor said the girl was being well treated under an interim care order by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Ireland health authorities.
“Obviously we have concerns as to her welfare,” he said.
“She was found in a distressed state, she is being cared for very well at the moment by professionals but obviously we’re at an impasse at the moment.
“We can’t identify her.”
The investigation team has called in Interpol, the missing persons bureau, the forensic science laboratory, the domestic violence and sexual assault unit and national immigration authorities.
They have also trawled city centre CCTV footage, contacted social services and homeless shelters, bed and breakfasts, hostels as well as airports and ports throughout the country.
Detectives came up with 15 possible names for their girl through their inquiries but they were “fully checked” and led nowhere.