Northern Ireland

Arlene Arkinson family 'appalled' by Garda delays

Arlene Arkinson
Image caption Arlene Arkinson was 15 when she went missing in 1994, shortly after getting into a car with Robert Howard

The family of Arlene Arkinson have said they are "appalled" at the lack of assistance from Irish authorities as they try to find out what happened to the teenager.

Fifteen-year-old Arlene, from Castlederg in County Tyrone, vanished after a night out in 1994.

The Garda (Irish police) was asked a year ago to hand over documents it has relating to the case.

It has repeatedly failed to do so, delaying the inquest as a result.

The family is now calling on Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan to personally intervene.

The inquest is trying to establish when and how the Castlederg teenager died.

She was last seen being driven down a country road by convicted paedophile and child killer Robert Howard.

He was acquitted of her murder in 2005 by a jury not aware of his past crimes and remained the prime suspect until his death in prison in 2015.

Image caption Howard was found not guilty of Arlene's murder after a trial in 2005

On Thursday, Judge Brian Sherrard, who is presiding over the inquest, said he shared the family's frustration at the continued delay.

He said he was not keen on "lines in the sand", but that point was fast approaching. He set aside two weeks in the autumn to conclude the hearing.

The Arkinson family said they are "appalled and deeply upset" as a result of the "exquisite cruelty" inflicted on them by the Garda's lack of assistance.

Despite extensive searches, including a dig late last year, the teenager's remains have never been found.

The case has been adjourned until Friday 8 September.

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