Northern Ireland news

Six people interviewed under caution by police investigating Greenvale Hotel tragedy

Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard died after a crush at the Greenvale Hotel last month
Connla Young

POLICE have identified 637 young people who were outside the Greenvale Hotel on the night of the St Patrick's disco tragedy.

It has also emerged that six people have been questioned under caution by detectives investigating the tragedy at the hotel in Cookstown.

The details came to light as relatives and friends of the three teenagers who were killed attended separate month’s mind Masses for the school pupils this week.

Morgan Barnard (17), Lauren Bullock (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie died after a crush outside the Cookstown hotel at a St Patrick's night disco.

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Father of Morgan Barnard says the family is still feeling 'raw pain' one month on

The Irish News has learned that six people have been questioned under caution however the PSNI last night refused to say "for legal reasons" if any of those interviewed were either attending the disco or were staff of the hotel.

It also refused to provide the ages of those involved.

Two men, including hotel owner Michael McElhatton, were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter before being released on police bail last month.

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Police have identified more than 600 young people who were outside the Co Tyrone hotel on the night of the tragedy.

In response to further queries from The Irish News, a spokesman said nine phones have been seized from adults as part of the investigation.

He added: “As part of our investigation we also utilised the Major Incident Public Portal to allow people to upload mobile phone footage and images of the evening and used one of our Cyber Support Vehicles which enabled us to download mobile phone footage from 30 phones at the scene."

Fresh details of the investigation emerged after the PSNI also said it cannot confirm “for legal reasons” what a white powder found in the home of Greenvale owner Michael McElahtton actually was.

While in custody he was further arrested on suspicion of possessing a Class A drugs with intent to supply, before being 'de-arrested' just hours later.

Police have refused to return the powder, which is believed to be a cleaning agent.

It is understood that while in custody he was not questioned about the substance nor was it presented to him.

Police insisted they acted in good faith and in line with procedure, but Mr McElhatton accused them of “blackening” his name.

Earlier this week the hotel owner agreed to restrict events on his premises to weddings and private functions for the next six months.

The proposal was made during a special meeting of a Mid Ulster District Council committee.

PSNI and Fire Service representatives also attended the meeting.

Police last night refused to provide details of their submission to the council for legal reasons.

Separate investigations into the tragedy are being carried out by police and the council.

The Police Ombudsman, meanwhile, is investigating after it emerged the first officers to attend the scene initially withdrew to await support before intervening.

The area's Policing and Community Safety Partnership chairwoman Denise Mullen said: "I would urge police to be more open about the investigation. If they give more clarity it will stop rumours."

Independent councillor Barry Monteith said he believed there would the "need for a public inquiry".

"Transparency is key. I have no doubt this is an issue that is gong to run and run a long time."

Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell last night said that 637 young people who were in the queue or car park of the hotel on St Patrick's night have been identified.

He urged anyone with information to come forward and repeated that police do not intend "to pursue any young people in relation to entering or trying to enter the licensed premises".

The PSNI man said that officers would be at Burnavon Arts Centre in Cookstown today and at Ranfurly House Arts Centre in Dungannon next Wednesday and Thursday and will be available to speak to anyone who attends.

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