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PFNI backs inquiry calls into Cookstown tragedy

Northern Ireland officers have backed an inquiry into the deaths of three Northern Ireland teenagers in 2019.

Calls for an inquiry into the deaths of three young people outside a St Patrick's Night disco in have been backed by Northern Ireland’s policing leaders.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland said it was vital that the causes of and responses to the incident were reviewed.

Connor Currie, 16, Lauren Bullock, 17 and Morgan Barnard,16, died in a crush outside a St Patrick’s night disco in 2019 at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown.

The PSNI’s Major Investigation Team submitted an interim file which contains a substantial amount of material to the Public Prosecution Service in 2020 and the case is on-going.

The Police Ombudsman is investigating how Police Service of Northern Ireland reacted to the incident.

An initial review included looking at the conduct of five officers on the night.

It has also since raised concerns over health and safety issues as a result of its investigation into the incident.

Representatives of the blue light teams who responded that night say they had never dealt with an incident of this kind before. But there is also concern that no real progress has been made two years’ on.

The Chair of the PFNI, Mark Lindsay, said official bodies needed to understand the circumstances so any gaps in legislation or training could be changed.

Mr Lindsay said: “I agree with the families of the young victims that there should be an enquiry into the causes and responses to the incident, which examines the roles of the various agencies involved and that of the event organisers. The sooner this happens, the more comfort it will bring to all those affected by this terrible tragedy.”

“I have no doubt whatsoever that my colleagues who attended this shocking and tragic incident did their best in what were unique and challenging circumstances. They responded in a timely manner to a scene that was no doubt filled with confusion, which no emergency services encountered here before,” he said.

The PSNI revealed just how complex the case had been.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said:  “Over 1,300 witness statements have been taken and more than 140 young people have been interviewed by specially trained officers.

“In total, 11 individuals have been interviewed by police in connection with a range of criminal offences and we await the response of the Public Prosecution Service.

"The file of evidence contains significant amounts of material and may take some time for the PPS to consider. Because these matters are now being considered by the PPS, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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