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Arkinson family 'frustrated' by delays in advancing inquest, Coroner told

Thursday, 8 December 2016

THE family of missing Castlederg teenager, Arlene Arkinson, are "deeply frustrated" by delays in concluding a long-running inquest, a coroner's court has been told.

A barrister representing the family, at a hearing at Belfast Coroners Court last week, was critical of authorities in Dublin who have failed to hand over documentation about Garda investigations into the schoolgirl's disappearance over 20 years ago.

Barrister Ivor McAteer told Coroner Brian Sherrard of the family's frustration over the continuing delay and said they are "becoming more and more upset as time goes on at the thought this might falter at the final hurdle."

However, the lawyer then tempered his remarks because senior counsel had now been appointed to oversee the disclosure process in Dublin.

"I will reserve any further comment," he added.

Fifteen-year-old Arlene was last seen being driven off down a country lane with convicted child killer, Robert Howard, after attending a disco in Bundoran in August 1994.

The convicted child killer and rapist was charged but later acquitted of her murder in 2005 by a jury which was unaware of his conviction for killing another teenager, Hanna Williams, in south London several years earlier.

Howard, 71, always remained the prime suspect in the Arkinson case until his death from cancer in prison last year.

Thursday's sitting was told that despite ongoing and active correspondence information has not yet been shared by authorities in the Republic of Ireland.

In September, representatives for Mr Sherrard met with officials from the Chief State Solicitor's Office and An Garda Siochana in Dublin to discuss the case and advance the disclosure of information.

Emails and letters have also been sent and telephone calls made, the court was told.

Mr Sherrard said he shared the Arkinson family's frustrations but said he was "encouraged" by reassurances that the matter is being progressed.

A further preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, December 21.

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