Northern Ireland news

Counselling available after Cookstown tragedy

 Flowers left close to the scene in Cookstown where three teenagers died in a 'crush' outside a hotel. Picture by Mark Marlow
Simon Doyle and Digital staff

Schools affected by the deaths of three teenagers in Co Tyrone are being offered 'emotional first aid'.

Extra advice, support and resources are being provided to schools by the Education Authority's (EA) critical incident team.

Pupils from several schools had been waiting to get into the disco at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown.

A 17-year-old girl and two boys aged 16 and 17 died in a crush outside the hotel on Sunday night.

A prayer service was held at St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, this afternoon.

Help available

  • Cookstown Youth Resource Centre will open from 4pm to 7pm for any young people who would like to speak to youth workers about the tragedy
  • Armagh GAA said two counsellors will be available for a group session in Tullysaran Community Centre tonight at 6pm. The session will be open to anyone from Tullysaran and other clubs in the area. Parents are also welcome to attend
  • Aghaloo O'Neills said its club rooms will be open tonight between 5pm and 7pm for young people to "meet in a safe and familiar environment"
  • Cookstown's Musical Youth said it was offering support and a listening ear to any young person
  • Cookstown Fr Rocks GFC has opened its clubhouse for "everyone in the community that doesn't want to be alone right now and maybe just needs someone to talk or to even just be in friendly company". It added: "If any member feels they need one to one counselling support please get in touch through direct message and this can be arranged. As a club we would like to send our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the young people that tragically lost their lives."
  • St Malachy's GAC in Edendork is holding a prayer service tonight and offering a professional counselling service for parents and youth members. All club activities, it added, were suspended until further notice.
  • If you or anyone you know is affected by this story you can contact Lifeline, the 24-hour crisis helpline on 0808 808 8000

A police vehicle parked outside the Greenvale Hotel, Co Tyrone following the incident in which three teenagers died 

Nigel Ruddell, medical director of the Ambulance Service, said some children would have seen attempts to resusciate the victims.

"It was a very upsetting scene, there were a large crowd of very young people there who doubtless witnessed some of the resusciation attempts, although the police very quickly shielded them from that," he said.

"We also had numerous crews - many of us are parents of children the same age - we found it difficult to deal with an incident like this, but going forwards we have followed up with our crews overnight and I know the police are contacting local schools to arrange for counselling etc. to follow up with those children who've been through a very traumatic experience."

 The scene at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown this morning after three teenagers lost their lives in a 'crush' as they waited to enter the building for a St Patrick's Day disco. Picture by Liam McBurney, PA Wire

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme he was contacted on Sunday night by a man who could not initially reach his sister after she attended the disco.

"His mum had contacted him and he rang me because she wasn't answering her mobile and by that stage numerous posts (had appeared) on Facebook - some of it very scary stuff, some of it quite untrue - that was adding to the worries of people," he said.

Mr McGlone said the Northern Health and Social Care Trust is having an "emergency hub meeting" tomorrow morning to discuss what support can be offered to people involved, including counselling in schools.

"Young people who witnessed what happened... (it was) very, very traumatic for them and indeed for the families who are grieving," he said.

He said the hub meeting would discuss what measures "may be put in place to ensure that those who are grieving or traumatised can receive the assistance and the help that is required".

"They'll do that with local community organisations, (speaking) to the GAA or the police, but particularly schools, teachers in schools," he said.

He added: "Politics doesn't come into this. This is about human beings; this is about loss of life; this is about supporting people through a really traumatic time."

Ulster Unionist councillor Trevor Wilson, who also attended the scene on Sunday night, said Mid Ulster District Council will contact the health trust "to see if there is anything we can do to help the situation".

"The town is reeling this morning from this news," he said.

One of the victims, Lauren Bullock (17), was a pupil at St Patrick's College in Dungannon.

The two boys were pupils of the neighbouring St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.

A prayer service was held at the academy this afternoon.

Parents and pupils attended the packed service, which lasted about half an hour. 

Education officials were also in attendance to offer further support to families. 

If you or anyone you know is affected by this story you can contact Lifeline, the 24-hour crisis helpline on 0808 808 8000

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