28 November 2005

Dorrians' emotional meeting with Arlene's family

Sunday Life

United in despair

By Stephen Breen
27 November 2005

THIS is the heart-rending moment when two devastated campaigning families came together for the first time.

The Dorrian family, who have been searching for her body since February, met relatives of Arlene Arkinson, whose body has never been found since her disappearance in 1994.

It is part of a process the Dorrians have embarked on to share their experiences with families whose loved-ones were abducted, murdered and buried.

Although the families have previously spoken on the phone, our exclusive pics were taken as the families met for talks in Dungannon yesterday to discuss a wide range of issues.

They included the probes into the murders, the searches for the bodies, and the anguish they have suffered since their loved-ones disappeared.

Lisa (25), was murdered after vanishing from a caravan park in Ballyhalbert, in February, and 15-year-old Arlene vanished after attending a disco in Co Donegal.

Child-killer Robert Howard was later acquitted of killing the teenager. The meeting was arranged by Joanne Dorrian, after Secretary of State Peter Hain confirmed that a top forensic expert would be used to help find Lisa's body.

A forensic expert was also used to search for Arlene's body.

North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, who wants a public inquiry into the police investigation into the Arkinson case, had urged Security Minister Shaun Woodward to permit the scientist to search for her body.

The plea was made after it emerged police were set to conduct more searches for Lisa and Arlene over the coming weeks.

Joanne hopes her family will not have to endure the 11-year torment suffered by the Arkinson's. The two families' discussion comes after the Dorrians held a meeting last month with Margaret McKinney, whose son Brian was 'disappeared' by the IRA in the 70s.

Speaking to us last night, Joanne described the meeting with the Arkinson family as "extremely helpful".

Said Joanne: "We decided to contact the Arkinsons because we wanted to give them our full support in their campaign to find Arlene's body.

"We thought it would be a very positive exercise for two families who have lost loved ones to share their experiences.

"The Arkinson family have been searching for 11 years and it must be terrible for them. We would hate to be still searching for Lisa's body in 11 years time - it must be horrendous. We also thought that we could get Kathleen to put pressure on the Government to allow the new forensic expert who is searching for Lisa to help find Arlene."

Kathleen told of her delight at meeting the Dorrian family.

She added: "They are a lovely family and I'm just glad I met them. We shared our experiences and I think we helped each other.

"I wanted to tell them how it hard it will be getting over their first Christmas without Lisa and just to tell them not to give up hope.

"We will do what we can to help them. We are sorry we couldn't attend the recent service for Lisa, but the family is always in our thoughts.

"We need to help each other and we both need to keep the pressure on the relevant authorities not to forget about our loved ones."

sbreen@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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