By Annamay McNally
THE solicitor for the family of Morgan Barnard – one of three teenagers who died in a horror crush outside a St Patrick’s Night disco in Cookstown – said it is only through the ‘diligent efforts’ of Morgan’s parents that the ‘ever evolving truth’ of what happened that night is being uncovered.
More revelations about the circumstances leading up to the deaths of 17-year-old Morgan, Connor Currie, who was 16, and Lauren Bullock, also 17, at the Greenvale Hotel, have been made public this week.
The Irish News reported that PSNI officers who initially attended the hotel failed to intervene for 16 minutes.
The Ulster Herald has since learned of a potential discrepancy between the first official media statement made by the PSNI in the hours after the tragedy, and what the Irish News has uncovered.
In a police statement, issued just after 7am on the morning after the Sunday night incident, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Mark Hamilton, said, “Events unfolded shortly before 9.30pm last night when the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a 999 call with reports of people injured outside the hotel.
“They declared it a major incident and police, Fire Service and Environmental Health then also attended the scene.
“Police arrived within two minutes of the call form (sic) the Ambulance Service and quickly secured the scene.
“We made an urgent appeal via social media to parents of the young people to come and collect them from a Friends and Family Centre which was established in the nearby Glenavon Hotel.”
Asked to explain the apparent discrepancy in the original statement which said police arrived within two minutes, compared with the newspaper’s report stating that police failed to intervene for 16 minutes, a PSNI spokeswoman would only say, “An ongoing investigation is currently being carried out by the Office of the Police Ombudsman, and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Darragh Mackin, solicitor for Morgan’s parents James and Maria, said the findings of that are “eagerly awaited” by the family. Mr Mackin and Morgan’s parents were due to meet with the Police Ombudsman’s Office yesterday (Wednesday).
“What is clear is that we have learned a lot more in the months after, than the family did in the days immediately afterwards”, Mr Mackin continued.
“The truth is ever evolving and that is only through the diligent efforts of Morgan’s family in leaving no stone unturned in getting to a better understanding of how this was allowed to happen.”
Independent Republican councillor, Barry Monteith, said the relatives of the three teenagers who died “are entitled to full disclosure and full information as to what happened”.
“This needs to move towards a public inquiry,” he said. “A public inquiry will examine every aspect of this and to me this is where this is heading towards.
“At this stage it’s totally unsatisfactory that these people seem to have to dig information out of the PSNI.
“On a weekly basis there are further revelations of the horror of that night.”