Belfast Telegraph

Delayed Arlene Arkinson inquest is postponed again

By David Young

A long-delayed inquest for a disappeared schoolgirl has been postponed again after police admitted they would not meet a deadline to disclose files to the court.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said he knew the development would cause "regret and distress" to the family of Co Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson and questioned whether the PSNI was diverting sufficient resources to the task.

Arlene's sister Kathleen was also in Belfast Coroner's Court for the hearing. Afterwards she said: "We have waited this long, we might as well wait another two months. As long as I get there in the end. I will never give up, never."

The arduous process of security vetting 70 case files has been further complicated by the prospect of the PSNI applying for Public Interest Immunity (PII) on three of the files, in a bid to stop their contents being outlined in court.

Grounds for PII applications, which the coroner will ultimately rule on, include matters of national security or the protection of police methodologies, such as the use of informers.

Arlene, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, vanished after a night out at a disco across the border in Co Donegal in August 1994.

She was last seen with convicted child killer Robert Howard. Eleven years later, Howard was acquitted of her murder.

Belfast Telegraph


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