Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Arkinson's family huddles together in long wait for closure

By Brendan McDaid

Arlene Arkinson's brothers and sisters huddled together in mutual support yesterday as they arrived for a new round of searches.

In emotional scenes, relatives wept as they described how they were desperate to bring their baby sister home to rest in peace.

"We are just hoping and praying we find her this time," Arlene's sister Paula said.

"We need to get her home so we can get some closure."

Yesterday's opening search was made even more poignant for the Arkinsons as it was the first without their father William, who died in November 2008 having never given up hope of finding his youngest child's remains.

Yesterday also marked what would have been his 70th birthday.

"He is missed today," Paula said. "I haven't slept over the last couple of weeks; maybe just three hours a night.

"We just can't move on. We are just living day by day. We are not giving up - definitely not - we have got to get her."

Recalling her sister, she added: "Arlene was a lovely, bright girl, a bubbly cutie, a good friend.

"You just have her face in your head every day.

"She would have been down in my house babysitting for me. My daughter is here but she was only a baby then. When you think about it, Arlene would be 32 now, but she is still 15.

"She was a child and it was horrible what happened to her. I can't understand why somebody would do this."

Her brother, Martin, who had travelled from Birmingham for the searches, said the lack of closure 17 years on was "driving us all crazy".

The 43-year-old said: "We hope to get closure and give Arlene a decent burial."

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