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McCanns call for Europe sex offender register

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: SUNDAY 03 SEPTEMBER 2007
By Caroline Gammell in Praia da Luz
Last Updated: 1:22am BST 03/09/2007
Madeleine McCann's mother has called for a European sex offenders' register as she insisted she would never give up hope that her daughter was still alive.

Paying tribute to her eldest child - who disappeared four "terrible" months ago today - Kate McCann revealed how much she missed the four-year-old.

She urged governments to work together to stop sexual predators targeting children and hiding in "safe havens" across Europe.

Reflecting on life without Madeleine, 39-year-old Mrs McCann said: "It is four months since Gerry and I have heard our daughter laugh, seen her smile, read her a story, given her a cuddle.

"Four months of not knowing what our beautiful daughter has had to endure and four months since that cold night when our world fell apart.

"I know many people think our daughter can't be alive. But nothing has changed our thoughts.

"As parents we cannot give up on our daughter until we know what has happened. We have to keep doing everything we can to find her.

"Each day Gerry and I get up and say: 'Today could be the day Madeleine comes home'. We have to keep hoping."

During their search for Madeleine, Mrs McCann said the couple had learnt a great deal about child abduction.

"We have been shocked to learn the truth," she wrote in a Sunday newspaper. "Parts of Europe are a safe haven for sex offenders. They can roam around Europe with no checks.

"If a sex offenders' register helps prevent the abuse of children and the anguish it causes families, then it will have been worth it."

The McCanns have stayed in the Algarve resort town of Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared on May 3 because they said they felt closer to their daughter.

But as the months pass without any significant developments, the couple concede that they will have to go home eventually.

The lease on their rented villa runs out in mid-September and they are expected to come back to the UK shortly afterwards.

Throughout their ordeal, the McCanns have relied heavily on their Catholic faith. Yesterday they attended Sunday mass in Praia da Luz as usual.

In Britain, Mrs McCann's aunt Janet Kennedy revealed that the couple still find solace in a ball of green wool given to them shortly after Madeleine went missing.

The wool was presented by Father José Manuel Pacheco and unravelled among the congregation at the local church as a symbol of solidarity.

Mr McCann recalled afterwards: "We sang a song, and we just kept singing the same verse, 'Nothing will separate us', over and over again and the church was completely overflowing.

"The wool finally got all the way round and the message was 'nothing will separate us and we are all united'."

This weekend, dozens of well-wishers in the couple's home village of Rothley in Leicestershire recreated the act, using green and yellow ribbons.

Mrs Kennedy told the congregation: "Although Kate and Gerry have lost Madeleine, they have gained a great deal - people's love and support, messages of hope, gifts for the children.

"It is a very, very hard journey for them but people are accompanying them all the way."

"I am astounded by their strength and perseverance."

She said the couple had relied on three Portuguese words to get them through - "esperança" meaning hope, "fe" meaning faith and "coragem" - courage.


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