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Ciara Breen's mother in distress following death of prime suspect

Bernadette Breen
Bernadette Breen

The mother of Ciara Breen has spoken of her distress following the untimely death of a man who was the prime suspect in her daughter's disappearance.

Bernadette Breen was dismayed to discover the man suspected of having knowledge of Ciara's whereabouts had passed away in police custody. 

Liam Mullen, who was on two occasions arrested in connection with her disappearance, died last week after being arrested by officers in Dundalk town. 

The anguished mother, however, believes there are still people who are alive with knowledge of her movements of the night she vanished. 

Speaking to RTE's Prime Time unit, she said she felt numb when she was told Mr Mullen had died.

"At first I felt numb. That’s being honest, I didn’t know what to feel. The next minute I wanted to shout, I wanted to scream, I wanted to hit something hard," she said in an exclusive interview.

"Now at the minute I have calmed down. Believe it or not I prayed for the person involved. I can’t believe that I did, maybe it’s my faith coming through, but I did pray for him."

Liam Mullen (55) was detained last Thursday at approximately 8.30pm in Dundalk on suspicion of drink-driving. It is understood he swallowed a substance - believed to be drugs - before his arrest.

While in custody in Dundalk garda station, Mr Mullen fell ill at approximately 10pm. An on-call doctor was requested to attend the station to treat him. Despite efforts by the doctor to resuscitate him, Mr Mullen was pronounced dead a short while later.

Ciara was aged 17 years old when she was reported missing on February 13, 1997. Mullen was first arrested in connection with the disappearance in 1999 when he was 34 years old.

He was also arrested on 2015 and gardaí conducted a major search of a section of bogland at Balmers Bog off the Ardee Road in Dundalk at the time following new information from witnesses who had come forward.

On both arrest occasions the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed that no charges be brought.

Ciara's mother said she implored Mullen to reveal any information he had regarding her whereabouts but to no avail. 

"And even if he didn’t confess, just to leave word with a priest. To say where she was. That’s gone. That hope and that prayer has gone. So that’s how I feel now, empty. But I’m still hopeful," she said.

"Ciara has been lying out there on her own for 20 years. I know she is with God, I have strong faith, but I’m a mother. To me she is on her own. She has no-one to come to talk to her, she has no-one to lay a flower," she said.

"She has no-one to cry at a graveside or anywhere else. That’s why I’m hopeful that you will allow her to come home. To the people that love her. And that’s why I’m thanking you in advance, and why I know that you will come forward.”

Gardaí are urging the person who wrote two relevant anonymous letters in 2014 to renew contact with them in confidence.