Northern Ireland news

Garda to submit files to Arkinson inquest but PSNI asks for 'minor redactions'

The 15-year-old, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, went missing in 1994 following a night out in Bundoran in Co Donegal. She has never been found
Siobhan Fenton

GARDAÍ have agreed to provide files to an inquest for murdered schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson without redacting their contents, a coroner's court has heard.

The 15-year-old, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, went missing in 1994 following a night out in nearby Donegal. She has never been found and an inquest in Belfast into her death began in February 2016.

The inquest has been stalled for months to facilitate the sharing of information from legal authorities in the Republic.

Arlene was last seen with child killer Robert Howard, who died in prison in 2015.

He was acquitted of the teenager's murder by a jury that was unaware of his previous conviction for murdering 14-year-old Hannah Williams, whose body was found in an industrial area close to the Thames Estuary.

Howard always remained the PSNI's prime suspect in the Arkinson case.

Last month the coroner was told that Garda files have been identified that are believed to contain "substantive" information.

It is understood the material includes papers on lines of inquiry pursued by gardaí, searches carried out south of the border and a purported meeting between gardaí and the former girlfriend of Howard.

Yesterday barrister for the coroner Ronan Daly told the court that following consideration of whether the files would need to be redacted due to containing sensitive information, both the Garda and PSNI have agreed that they can be submitted largely intact.

He said the Garda has agreed to them being submitted in their entirety and the PSNI has asked for "minor redactions" to the files.

The next review hearing is scheduled for next month.

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