'I begged him to say what he knew... that prayer is gone' - Mother of Ciara Breen speaks after death of suspect
The mother of missing teenager Ciara Breen believes there are still people who have information about her disappearance - despite the death of the chief suspect in her daughter's murder.
Bernadette Breen has spoken of her shock when she was told that Liam Mullen - who was arrested twice on suspicion of Ciara's murder - had died in garda custody.
"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 told RTE Prime Time 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."
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.
Bernadette said she begged Mullen "in every way I could, to say what he knew" about the whereabouts of Ciara’s body.
"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.
At the time of Ciara's disappearance, a number of witnesses claimed that teenager had sneaked out of her house to meet Mullen but he denied all knowledge of her whereabouts.
Bernadette said that "there is only one person there" in terms of suspects in Ciara's disappearance.
"Out of respect for his family, because I’m sure his family loved him, I don’t want to get into it too deeply, because, it’s only been a week that they lost him," she said.
Bernadette believes Ciara’s body is somewhere within the 16 acre bogland site which was searched two years ago. She maintains the people that supplied the information that led the gardai to the bog "have to know a bit more".
"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.