The death of Arlene Arkinson: why are the police withholding information?

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Last year I was in Castlederg for a funeral, and in the tea-and-sandwiches after, I fell into conversation with some local people. Someone mentioned the name of Arlene Arkinson, the 15-year-old Castlederg girl who vanished in 1994. She was last seen in the company of an older man, Robert Howard. This man was found not guilty of Arlene’s murder in 2005, although the jury was not made aware at the time that Howard was already serving a life sentence for the raping and killing of an English schoolgirl called Hannah Williams in 2001. Arlene Arkinson’s body has never been found.

It’s a nightmare story and I had assumed Howard was a lone and probably deranged predator. But when I spoke with Castlederg locals about the case last year, they were adamant that there was more in the case than met the eye. Some of them suggested that  the police’s lack of success in dealing with the case could well relate to Howard and/or someone else involved having been  a state agent. That, they said, would explain why the police had been so slow and ineffective in their investigations.

At the time I  mentally dismissed this kind of talk as the frustrated grief of a community where a 15-year-old girl had been murdered and no sign of her body or justice had emerged. That is, until recently, when the PSNI applied for and were granted permission to withhold some information relating to the Arkinson case.

Theresa Villiers has been loud in her promises that the state will make available all its records so that grieving families here can be helped come to terms with their losses in the past. She clearly wasn’t thinking of the Arkinson family when she made the promise.

The grief of that family is real. The withholding of information about Arlene’s death is cruel as well as unjust.






29 Responses to The death of Arlene Arkinson: why are the police withholding information?

  1. jessica February 15, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    “the PSNI applied for and were granted permission to withhold some information relating to the Arkinson case.”

    I agree, there seems to be a total lock down on historic information in some surprising cases.

    Either the infiltration was far higher than ever imagined, the collusion was totally endemic unlike villers claims to the contrary, or there is frustration with the amount of evidence which has slipped through the cracks and turned up in unexpected places that they are being over zealous in the clamp down.

    Whatever the reason, we should be all the more resolute that the truth comes out.

    The pressure does seem to be building but I wonder what more could be done by the general public such myself to help.
    Could petitions etc… be signed.

    This is getting beyond a joke and the southern parties in particular should be ashamed of how little they have done.

    • Ryan February 15, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      “This is getting beyond a joke and the southern parties in particular should be ashamed of how little they have done.”

      The Southern parties have a lot to hide also Jessica, but not in the sense that some Unionists would allege. The Dublin/Monaghan bombings is just one example. The Irish Governments inaction in confronting the British Government (who still refuses to release the files on the atrocity, so they obviously have something to hide) about the atrocity and its slacking in getting Justice for the victims and their families is something they would rather not become public.

      You just have to look at Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald’s attitude and sheer pandering to the British Government when he was in power. Can you imagine the reaction from the President of the United States or the President of France if Margaret Thatcher had asked them how they would feel about an American/French town being bombed by the British? FitzGerald was asked just that and he said “If anyone in Dundalk was helping the IRA we would arrest them”. What a pathetic and weak man! the documents released last year exposed what a disgrace this man was. I was raised to have manners and to be respectful but if I had been Taoiseach and Thatcher asked me that I would’ve did the decent thing: told Thatcher to bug off and demand who the hell she thinks she is.

      As for getting the truth from the British Government? Republicans/Nationalists have to keep the pressure on them. Don’t settle for anything less than full exposure. Even some Unionists now want the full files released. The truth always comes out in the end.

      • jessica February 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

        “The Southern parties have a lot to hide also Jessica, but not in the sense that some Unionists would allege. The Dublin/Monaghan bombings is just one example. The Irish Governments inaction in confronting the British Government (who still refuses to release the files on the atrocity, so they obviously have something to hide) about the atrocity and its slacking in getting Justice for the victims and their families is something they would rather not become public. ”

        Fine Gael capitulated to economic threats and sold their souls for quick trade benefits with the UK giving a lot more to british intelligence than has yet been made public. They should come clean and say how they fear Sinn Fein coming to power will mean the threats to UK trade agreements will become reality and show the Irish people their true colours.

        I also believe high ranking gardai uncovered the true level of spying on state officials and the gardai themselves that was going on without their knowledge and have been silenced. Fine Gael appear to have an unhealthy control over the gardai and its commissioners never mind the media.

        “The truth always comes out in the end.”

        Lets hope so. In the mean time, it is quite clear to all who has the most to fear from it.

  2. blackmountain February 15, 2016 at 9:32 am #

    This move to issue a PII certificate in this dreadful sexual murder of a 15 year old girl is not surprising ever since it was made known that Eric Anderson ( Ex Special Branch / RUC) was being called to give evidence at the inquest

  3. TheHist February 15, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    The family have so long been seeking justice for Arlene, yet the administration of justice is seeking to prevent justice. Yet again, the State dictating and telling victims what they can and cannot have in their pursuit of justice – transparency? In normal circumstances the withholding of information is a criminal offence, yet the state can use this to justify preventing having to hold documents over to protect THEM!

    A precedent being set down for a criminal case,just when the focus of releasing documentation related to legacy cases is so fresh. The timing in line with Theresa Villers “national security” mantra. Withholding information to the jury at the trial, now withholding information at the inquest – an absolute disgrace.

  4. Jim.hunter February 15, 2016 at 10:32 am #


  5. Iolar February 15, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Where does the evidence lead? Arlene disappeared in August 1994 and 22 years later unprecedented efforts are being made by some members of the government and the security forces to bury the truth. Who made a decision to dig up the garden of a relative of Arlene’s in Castlederg? A BBC Spotlight documentary broadcast on 13 February 2014 established that efforts to investigate this case were obstructed over the years. Efforts by a police officer from Kent to investigate Arlene’s disappearance were also sabotaged. Documents relevant to Arlene’s disappearance were withheld from the Ombudsman.

    It would appear that we are being exposed to the tip of an iceberg, on this SoS’s watch.

  6. PJ Dorrian February 15, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    The issuing of a PIIC in this case around the same time that papers on upper class paedophiles being lost and the Met having to close down an investigation into allegations about the ruling classes does seem to be, well, highly coincidental.
    Perhaps she was taken out of this jurisdiction and over to England before she was murdered and her body disposed of. Perhaps the murder is linked to a senior member of the Royals. Perhaps…..
    The fact that evidence in this case is being hidden allows the febrile imaginations of people like me to make connections not necessarily truthful. Of course, putting all the evidence in the open would stop this.
    Btw, the “protection of an informer” is a ruse, look how many “informers” were disposed of by Steak knife without protection by the security forces.

    • jessica February 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      “Btw, the “protection of an informer” is a ruse, look how many “informers” were disposed of by Steak knife without protection by the security forces.”

      Disposed of on demand by the british perhaps.

      Just like almost all of the loyalists involved in the state collusion of murders such as pat finucane were conveniently killed in loyalist feuds, another known tactic used by the british to take out people they don’t want around.

      • Ryan February 15, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

        Have to agree with you there Jessica. Unionist paramilitaries I’m sure were all to eager to have the help of the British Army/State, 80% of the UDA’s intelligence came directly from the British state, so therefore its fair to argue that the British state was involved in the majority of the murders the UDA committed. Not to mention the “Security Forces” infiltrated Unionist paramilitaries from top to bottom and could’ve shut them down within a week, so why didn’t they? All those sectarian murders, running into the hundreds, could’ve been prevented.

        All the evidence shows Theresa Villiers statement that the State committed only 10% of the killings here (“only” as if that makes it ok) is nonsense and they were involved in at least 40%, not taking account if the British state was running informers in the IRA/INLA that were allowed to kill or the IRA bombs that came with a warning that the state refused to act on, such as Bloody Friday and Birmingham, in order to cause civilian casualties, a tactic to combat IRA propaganda. Anyone with common sense would know if the IRA wanted to kill civilians they could’ve easily done so, Kingsmills is one example. They wouldn’t have bothered with a warning and just did what the UVF usually did and give no warning.

        Of course the British Government had Unionist paramilitaries killed. Brian Robinson was killed, just after he murdered a Catholic civilian near Ardoyne, in order to combat accusations that the British state was only targeting republicans. Billy Wright was killed by INLA man Crip McWilliams, a close friend of my fathers whom I don’t believe was an informer for a second but I do believe a blind eye was turned to Crip’s activities in prison because Crip told a guard that he was going to kill Wright a short time before he actually did. A while after Wrights death, Fulton aka “Swinger Fulton” a very close associate of Wright was found in his prison cell with a belt around his neck and tied to his bed. He had apparently committed suicide through strangulation (not from hanging) but some have said he was murdered. There has been accusations about Swinger and Wright being in a homosexual relationship (the word “swinger” obviously points to being bisexual), Swinger Fulton even had a tattoo of Wrights face on his chest where his heart is and was apparently “obsessed” with Wright, according to Loyalists. He even spent entire nights at Wrights grave. I even remember as a kid seeing Wright and Fulton on TV (during drumcree) and sensing they were a little “too close”. Of course this flies in the face of Wrights protestant fundamentalism and extreme righteous views but it wouldn’t be the first time a protestant fundamentalist was a hypocrite.

        Anyway, sorry for the long post lol

        • jessica February 15, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

          “Billy Wright was killed by INLA man Crip McWilliams, a close friend of my fathers whom I don’t believe was an informer for a second but I do believe a blind eye was turned to Crip’s activities in prison because Crip told a guard that he was going to kill Wright a short time before he actually did.”

          More than a blind eye, he had to have been assisted by more than one person and being terminally ill would it not make him a perfect candidate for the hit while giving him a wonderful way to go out having not only killed a rat but had him crying for his life at the end.

  7. Mark February 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    Jude, I would love to say this is unbelievable or incredible, the fact is, in this part of Ireland, in any part of Ireland, it is quite believable, why, because this is how things have been done here for decades, perhaps centuries!
    Equality, for nationalists, or children, ‘never, never, never’ as someone once said!

    • Ryan February 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

      100% correct Mark, can you imagine this happening in England? Can you imagine tens of thousands of English families waiting decades on inquests and on Justice/Truth to how their relatives were murdered or maimed? It would never happen but if your Irish then it seems to be OK. The families of the victims of the Shankill Butchers put it accurately when they said: “If these victims were Protestants this would never have been allowed to continue”.

      As George Orwell said in Animal Farm, a book I loved as a kid and still love: “All are equal but some are more equal than others”.

      • jessica February 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

        “can you imagine this happening in England?”

        Or the Kincora child abuse cases.

        The evidence was destroyed as usual, but evidence popped up in England where the kids were flown over to be abused by thatchers front benches.

        Villiers switched it from the english inquiry team who had the clout to have any documents released to the HET who don’t which means it will hit a brick wall.

        I would love to see an online petition with all Ireland, Britain and US elements demanding these injustices be undone and highlighting the evidence that is in the public domain already. I imagine any normal person would support all evidence being made available in all legal cases and it would help to see what support there is at home and internationally.

        Even the excuse of national security is an insult, basically saying the Irish are less important than the supposed risk of terrorists knowing (as if they didn’t already) how low the British can go to get their way in conflicts.

        • Ryan February 15, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

          Well in a way Jessica evidence being destroyed by the British state is evidence in itself. There’s no smoke without fire.

          It was only over the past 2 years that the paedophile ring that was operating at Westminster for decades (or centuries) was exposed. Accusations of child sexual abuse have been made against many well known and powerful people, most of whom are now dead (how convenient). Not only was there accusations of child rape but there’s also been accusations of children being murdered in order to silence them and protect the rapists. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Westminster paedophile ring was active at Kincorra, who knows which or how Unionist politicians were involved…

          Ian Paisley Snr was even accused of ignoring the sexual abuse of young boys by Orange men, a woman at his church said she repeatedly told him of the abuse and he didn’t act, here’s the news footage:

          Of course the British Royal Family have had numerous allegations made against them over the years, the most recent accusations against Prince Andrew sleeping with a minor in America. Lord Mountbatten (the same blown up by the IRA) was said to be a visitor at Kincorra. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if such accusations are true, given this family is headed by a man, Prince Philip, who once said he would love to be reincarnated as a “deadly virus” in order to solve the issue of over population in the world, in other words he wanted to cause the deaths of millions of people. Obviously he and his family aren’t satisfied with the tens of millions of people they have already killed over the centuries.

          • Sherdy February 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

            Were there not also suggestions about one of Prince Charles’ butlers?

          • Mark February 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

            Ryan, the matter, unfortunately is, and the evidence for Sherdy, infra and supra, does point to substantially more than the hired help!
            Convicting the guilty, One in particular of the battenberg’s was reported as visiting a child’s home in Belfast, and elsewhere. This information has been written, the question is, why arrest, in some instances charge and, in others, obtain conviction against once well known and revered personalities from media while, at the same time, ignoring evidence against others, like a well known rock band guitarist, what does he, and others know, were they all at the same parties with members of the battenberg family or, what other reason could there be for not further questioning some of these?

  8. Perkin Warbeck February 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    The idea of the undiluted hushers-up of the PSNI being laced with the crushed-up Ecstacy pills of politics, Esteemed Blogmeister, is not something we are completely unfamiliar with down here in the Free Southern Stasi.

    There was a time when former policemen who, having retired, did the decent thing and faded from view. This usually involved either disappearing a fair way into the off-fairway rough as they hoked and poked for their umpteenth lost golf ball or vanishing into their greenhouses to tend to the decorative patterned leaves of their colourful blossoms.

    The latter often at the gentle behest of their newly discommoded wives, unused to having anything other than a deep-pile carpet under their fluffy, suede and slippered feet.

    -Begone, interloper, to thy begonias !

    Lugs Brannigan, by a mile, was the go-to Garda on the beat in the streets of Ireland, Dublin during the Fabulous Fifties. He was the one-man guardian of the peace who had wrecking balls where most Gardai only had fists or, at least, batons in their fists. Lugs wasn’t long putting manners into that mob with the major league nom de guerre of The Animal Gang. Long before the age-level dropped and the Bugsy Malones came into their own.

    The law-abiding citizenry on Liffeyside were used to lending a lug to second-hand tales, some even often understated, of his crash, bang, wallop exploits on their behalf during his action-pocked career: breaking up a row here, and scattering a mob there, that sorta thingy.

    But once Lugs reached retirement age which lawfully permitted him to rest, that was it; the rest was silence. The lugs of the listenership in wirelessland pricked up and were no longer fed. Mr. Brannigan, civilian, took to breeding budgerigars in the peace and q. of rural Summerhill, County Meath.

    No such protocol now, alas, no never, no more. All changed, changed utterly, as soon as the dispassionate broadcasters of the monolithic media, including the homogeneous hackitariat, twigged just how big a dodge it would be to give former members of the Garda Siochana a gig. Once they copped on to the effectiveness of ex-cops being used as kickers in the shins of the Shinners, it has become an endless queue and a. of broadcasting Bobbies.

    As recently as only yesterday, retired super Detective Superintendent Hugh Whodunnit was a guest on the de rigeur Dame Dosh Finucane Show when she picked up where she had left off the day before. (There is only such much one can pack into a two-hour Saturday of a four-hour week, especially when one considers how scandalously under-resourced the show is).

    That would be on the tropically topical topic of the suddenly remembered Special Criminal Court. Tropically, on account of its ability to inject some heat into hitherto cool under-the-collar callers in.

    The opening scenes of the movie ‘Some like it Hot’ famously concentrated on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, 1929. This wipe out was accidentally witnessed by two julep-sipping jazz players, one a saxophonist and the other, a double bassist. Which caused them (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) to become on-the-runs, disguised as pale shadows of females and joining Sue and the Society Syncopaters (with Marian, oops, Marilyn Monroe as the ultimate ukelele player).

    In fact, it was this Tommy-gun and Fedora aspect of February 14 rather than the Tommy loves Nora tradition featuring a single red rose and a tongue-tingling chocolate box of Cadbury Roses which prompted the heroically neutral hostess to invite her ex-garda guest to share her gig.

    Retired super Detective Superintendent Hugh Whodunnit did not disappoint as he rattled off, in a race against the clock, the lengthy litany beginning with Jean McConville, detouring via Senator Mairia Caligula, oops Cahill and ending, on a downbeat, with Garda McCabe-Lincoln.

    Jerry beats Gerry every time.

  9. Sherdy February 15, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    We have been told that the unfortunate Arlene was murdered, and its suggested there were possible sexual connotations.
    These sounded plausible until we hear of these public immunity certificates which allow the security forces to commit crime without anyone questioning the deeds or the motives.
    How do we know this girl was sexually assaulted or murdered? If these suggestions came from the RUC/PSNI who are now obtaining secrecy certificates, then the last thing we should believe is what they suggest to be possible facts.
    How can these be appealed? I don’t think our MLAs or members of the policing board have the clout to do this.
    It is unlikely that our MPs have the ability or the interest, but we do have a Privy Council member, Jeffrey Donaldson, who could have the authority to inquire why our justice system is being contaminated by the very people supposed to uphold it.
    You are always talking about victims, and especially innocent victims – so 15 year old Arlene comes into that category.
    Well Jeffrey, will you help this poor grieving family to get the truth about Arlene?

  10. myles sweeney February 15, 2016 at 2:48 pm # today has quite a long piece on the subject – worth a read.


  11. Ryan February 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    I was totally surprised by these revelations about Arlene Arkinsons murder investigation. I always thought that Arlene was murdered simply by a deranged and sick individual, completely unrelated to politics and had nothing to do with the IRA, UVF, UDA or the British State. So why would the British state want to withhold and block information in this case?

    We have seen repeatedly the British state doing this in order to protect individuals who were working for them and many of which were involved in numerous murders and described as “serial killers” by Nuala O’Loan. So who might the British be protecting in this case, if indeed they are protecting someone? They obviously want to hide something in a case which apparently isn’t related to politics here. Its speculation but was the murderer of Arlene Arkinson, as mentioned whose body still hasn’t been recovered, an agent of the state? Or in anyway involved with the State?

    I know its foolish to comment on things I don’t know a lot about and I admit I don’t know much about Arlenes murder (always assuming it was done by a sick lunatic who belonged in prison) but could there be a sectarian element to her murder? We know the UDA/UVF didn’t just want to murder Catholics, they also kidnapped Catholics to torture them, in some cases for days (the UDA being a LEGAL organisation at this time, btw). There’s one incident I know of where a UDA man beat and raped a woman and murdered her son for simply being a Catholic. Could Arlene have met a similar fate for simply being a Catholic?

  12. Eolach February 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Has mainstream Unionism too much to hide here……their voice for proper justice is feeble in the extreme….they seem to be very content with a hierarchy of victims….but don’t dare shine a torch in the wrong direction , that’s the way they’ve always operated from the conception of this bigoted ,sectarian cesspool. Why has investigative journalism not jumped on this or have they been warned off ! … matter….the cracks in the proverbial dam are opening and the trickle will become a torrent……we will have justice and heads will roll.

  13. Wolfe tone February 15, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    It should come as no surprise the British state closing ranks when it comes to looking after murdering paedophiles. They’ve been doing it for decades right under our noses. Perhaps Robert Howard was in a ring as it’s often been noted these filth normally compare notes with other likeminded individuals? Alas pleading to paedophile lovers in the British govt to disclose details of a paedophile won’t get too far. They look after their own so they do.

  14. Belfastdan February 15, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    It is about time that the British government was taken before the international courts and exposed for the duplicitous, cynical lying b-st-rds we know they are.

    The hypocrisy of the southern parties and media never ceases to amaze and depress me.
    If it was SF withholding information on Arlene Arkinson you would never hear the end of it, and Gerry Adams would be challenged at every opportunity,as it is the Brits holding back information on this girls murder not a word.

    One can only assume that Robert Howard’s proclivities were well known to the powers that be and that he was recruited as an agent. By redacting information they wish to escape the condemnation and disgust that would ensue if it was laid open to public view that a violent sexual offender was a Brit agent and that a blind eye was turned to his activities.

    • Sherdy February 15, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

      Do we even know that Robert Howard was involved in Arlene’s apparent death?
      We were told she was seen that evening in a car driven by him.
      Was it a credible witness who saw them or was it made up as a convenient diversion from the possible truth of state involvement?

  15. giordanobruno February 16, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    We do not know the reasons for the PII application, so I suggest we all indulge in fevered speculation…oh wait you already have!

  16. funcgege February 17, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    Someone mentioned the name of Arlene Arkinson, the 15-year-old Castlederg girl who vanished in 1994. Where such information?

    • Jude Collins February 17, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

      Google and it’s all over the place.