Man quizzed on Ciara stays silent

Liam Mullen
Liam Mullen

This is the man arrested in connection with the cold-case disappearance of Ciara Breen, who vanished without trace almost two decades ago.

Liam Mullen (53), who maintains his innocence, refused to speak to the Sunday World when we approached him on Bachelor’s Walk in Dundalk, yards from the home Ciara shared with her mother Bernadette at the time of the 17-year-old’s disappearance on February 13, 1997. 

The Co. Louth girl had told her mother she was going to bed, but snuck out of the house to meet someone and was never seen again. 

Gardai believe she was murdered on the night she vanished, but they have never found her remains. 

Ciara’s friends told gardai at the time that she had made arrangements to meet Mullen – who was almost twice her age – that night. 

Ciara Breen

They claimed he had approached Ciara and her friends in a chipper on the day before her disappearance and they overheard her making arrangements to meet him later that night. He denies this conversation took place. 

Mullen was first arrested over the disappearance in 1999. He was arrested again two weeks ago after gardai received two letters and took statements from two people who came forward with fresh information. 

He was later released without charge. He has always maintained his innocence and said he had no relationship with Ciara other than to say hello to her on the street. 

However, he did not want to discuss the matter when the Sunday World approached him this week. 

“I don’t want to talk to you. Good luck,” he said, before getting into his red Toyota Celica sports car and driving away. 

He drove away again after coming out of a house in the O’Hanlon Park area of the town later that day. 

Shortly before Ciara’s disappearance somebody wrote graffiti saying ‘Ciara loves Liam’ on the wall of a vacant house yards from her home. 

Gardai from Operation Trace – which was set up to investigate the disappearance of a number of women in Ireland in the 1990s – were involved in the arrest of Mullen back in 1999. 

Lands associated with Mullen and his family were searched, but nothing was found and he was released. 

Liam Mullen didn't want to talk to reporter Alan Sherry.

While gardai sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) recommending charges, the DPP decided there was no evidence to warrant a charge. Another file has been sent to the DPP following the latest arrest. 

As part of the original investigation into Ciara’s disappearance in the 1990s, gardai also received information that a paedophile ring, mostly made up of men from Northern Ireland, had been operating in Dundalk at the time. 

There is no suggestion or suspicion that Mullen had any involvement in this ring or that Ciara was targeted by the men. However, it is believed the men had targeted some of Ciara’s friends who used to gather in a former abattoir on the outskirts of town. 

Ciara’s mother Bernadette appeared on RTE’s Crimecall in December pleading for anyone with information to come forward. 

“I had just one little girl, my heart, my soul, my world. And just like that she was gone,” she said. 

“She was not streetwise and she paid the price. And if anything comes out of this I would like it to be for whoever has the information we need for Ciara to give it.

Please, please, don’t let her lie out there on her own any more, let her come home.”

She told of Ciara’s last words to her on the night she disappeared. 

“I had just one little girl, my heart, my soul, my world. And just like that she was gone” 

“She said ‘goodnight’ and I said ‘goodnight pet, I love you’. And she goes ‘mammy, don’t worry about anything, I love you, I’ll see you in the morning’. They were the last words we spoke.

“I got up at 2am to go to the toilet and I looked in [to Ciara’s bedroom] and she wasn’t there,” Bernadette said.

“She didn’t take any money or clothes with her. It is as if she went to meet somebody and did not get back.”

She added that Ciara had left a window on the latch so she could climb back in. However, she never returned.