The PSNI have told the family of Arlene Arkinson they will resume searching for her at the end of this month and that they expect to carry out up to 40 searches in Northern Ireland.
This Saturday marks the 17th anniversary of Arlene’s disappearance. The 15-year-old from Castlederg went missing on August 14, 1994 after attending a disco in Bundoran.
Convicted killer, child abuser and rapist Robert Howard (67) was charged with her murder but was acquitted in 2005. The trial jury was unaware that at the time Howard was already serving a life sentence for killing 14-year-old Hannah Williams from south London.
A planned search in January was postponed due to severe weather conditions.
Arlene’s sisters Kathleen and Paula met with the PSNI for over an hour yesterday morning.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat afterwards, Kathleen said they were told that the PSNI will resume searching on August 31. “That’s my late father’s birthday. He would have been 70 if he were still alive.
“We would ask that everyone stop for five minutes on Saturday and say a wee prayer that they find Arlene soon so that we can bury her with her mother and father and her sister Mary.”
Kathleen said the PSNI told her that “they’re going to send out 40 different searches in Northern Ireland”.
Asked about whether the scale of the search made her optimistic, she was hesitant. “I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve done that before. But I have confidence this time because the police have co-operated with police in England.”
She said she could not comment on why the search, which was called off in January, was not set to resume until the end of August.
Kathleen thanked everyone for their support, thoughts and prayers and said the family remain determined to bring Arlene home. “
“We just have to keep have to keep going - to keep pushing and pushing. We only need one clue to help us find Arlene.”