Belfast Telegraph

Time for light to be shed on Lisa Dorrian's death

Lisa Dorrian
Lisa Dorrian

Editor's Viewpoint

The sight of a young woman crying at the site where police were searching for the body of her missing sister will have moved many people in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately that number is unlikely to include those who were involved in the murder or the disposal of the body or who know the perpetrators.

It is 14 years since Lisa Dorrian disappeared after attending a party at a caravan park near Ballyhalbert in Co Down. Now police are searching a former airfield near the caravan park in the hope of finding her body. New technology which can identify underground voids is being used for the first time.

Her sister Joanne spoke emotionally to the media as the search continued. She was right when she said that few people could imagine what the family has undergone in the past 14 years as hope of finding the body has flared intermittently only to be extinguished almost immediately.

Her description of the family walking those same fields years ago in the hope of finding Lisa was very moving and reminiscent of how the family of Castlederg teenager Arlene Arkinson must have similarly hoped to find her after her disappearance in 1994.

She too is presumed dead and the chief suspect in the crime, Robert Howard, died in prison in 2015.

Three other families - whose missing sons were murdered and secretly buried by the IRA and became known as the Disappeared - have also spent decades wondering about their loved ones' last hours and where their bodies now lie.

In Lisa's case her mother who campaigned tirelessly to find evidence of where she is buried died brokenhearted without ever finding out what happened to her daughter or being able to give her a Christian burial.

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As time passes that becomes the overwhelming desire of those families whose children have disappeared. While the PSNI remains determined to find out the killers of Lisa, the family desperately wants her body recovered so they have a grave to visit. That is a natural desire and one which any civilised human being shares.

It must be nearly impossible for the Dorrian family to revisit the scene of Lisa's killing and to realise that there are people living not far away who know exactly what happened that night but refuse to give police the exact information they need to find the body and bring the killers to justice.

Could the tears of her sister not stir a little humanity?

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