Northern Ireland news

Family of missing Arlene Arkinson demand answers over bodies in exhumed grave

Kathleen Arkinson has called for Gardaí to release more information on a grave that was exhumed earlier this year in Co Sligo. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Paul Ainsworth

The family of missing Co Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson are demanding answers from Gardaí over bodies in a grave exhumed during searches for her remains.

The sister of the 15-year-old from Castlederg, who went missing in 1994, has called for further information to be released on the grave, which was exhumed in Co Sligo in June.

A body removed by Gardaí was found not to be that of Arlene, but the Arkinson family say they have been told other bodies were found at the site, and have called for further information to be provided.

Arlene was last seen after attending a disco in Co Donegal, and was spotted in the company of convicted child killer and rapist Robert Howard, who was acquitted of her murder in 2005.

Howard, who died in prison in 2015 aged 71, remained the chief suspect in Arlene's murder, and was due to give evidence at a fresh inquest into her death.

The Arkinson family has called for Gardaí to "co-operate" with the inquest into Arlene's death, which remains ongoing.

Speaking on the 24th anniversary of her sister's disappearance, Kathleen said: "We would like the Garda to please confirm the exact number of bodies in that grave and if they were all examined. We hold much reservation and doubt in relation to the recent events involving An Garda Siochana.

"Before the inquest resumes on the 4 September 2018, we would also like An Garda Siochana to explain what provoked the exhumation that they say they did carry out."

She added that further information could "allay the suspicion and rumour we are dealing with on a daily basis in relation to Arlene's remains".

The PSNI, at the request of the Coroner's office, have also asked An Garda Siochana for further details on the exhumation. Gardaí did not comment last night.

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