Northern Ireland news

Police 'engaged' with 20 schools since Greenvale tragedy

From left, Connor Currie (16), Lauren Bullock (17) and Morgan Barnard (17) died following a crush outside a St Patrick's Day disco at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown
Connla Young

THE PSNI has “engaged” with 20 schools since three teenagers were killed in a crush outside a Co Tyrone nightclub last month.

Hundreds of teenagers have been identified and interviewed since tragedy struck at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on St Patrick’s night.

Three teenagers Morgan Barnard (17) Lauren Bullock (17) and Connor Currie (16) died as the queued to gain entry.

It has now emerged the police officers have engaged with 20 different schools as part of their investigation and that a dozen have allowed investigating officers onto their grounds to collect statements and other evidence.

All the schools are based across three counties, Tyrone, Derry and Armagh.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray last night said that “12 schools have facilitated either questionnaires, witness statements or both within or outside school hours on premises”.

The officer also said that officers have visited some young people at home.

“Five of the schools have low numbers of witnesses and therefore homes visits are being conducted,” he said.

“We are continuing to work with the other 3 schools involved to accommodate their needs.”

Floral tributes at the Greenvale Hotel

The senior PSNI man said all “engagement” with police has been voluntary.

“During our engagement we have been working closely with parents of those affected and the schools to accommodate their various preferences regarding where, when and how we speak with the young people involved,” he said.

“All engagement with police is on a voluntary basis and is wide ranging including filling out questionnaires, speaking face to face with officers and providing witness statements.”

Meanwhile, police have confirmed that none of the officers who arrived at the scene of the unfolding tragedy and then withdrew without helping have been suspended or redeployed to other duties.

The Police Ombudsman launched an investigation after it emerged that four officers left the area before returning later.

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton, who referred the matter to the ombudsman, praised the officers last week claiming they “were brave and acted in good faith”.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin last night said: “While the PSNI make any decision to suspend or re-position an officer it is not considered appropriate to do so in this case.

“This is due to the fact that the matter has been referred to the Ombudsman’s office to investigate the actions of the initial police responders.”

The Month’s Mind for the three victims takes place next Wednesday.

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