Northern Ireland news

Mother of Greenvale Hotel crush victim says she fears young people 'still at risk '

Connor Currie (16), Lauren Bullock (17) and Morgan Barnard (17) died during a crush outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown in 2019
Connla Young

THE mother of a teenager who died in the Greenvale Hotel crush has voiced fears that young people could still be at risk after health and safety chiefs said investigating the tragedy does not fall within their remit.

Morgan Barnard (17), Lauren Bullock (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie died as they queued to get into a disco at the Cookstown hotel on St Patrick's Night two years ago.

Their deaths stunned the community and prompted separate PSNI and Police Ombudsman investigations.

Last week Ombudsman Marie Anderson said a multi-agency approach is "required to investigate the range of health and safety issues raised by the case".

In an unusual intervention, she said "a co-ordinated investigative approach is the best way of identifying everything that went wrong and identifying measures which could prevent similar circumstances in the future".

The ombudsman said her office is currently investigating the actions of a number of police officers involved in the initial response to the incident and who had a role to play in the night time economy in Cookstown.

"I am aware that there are a number of agencies with responsibility for addressing issues relating to health and safety and the ‘night time economy’,” she added.

It can now be revealed that the ombudsman recently wrote to the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) in relation to the Greenvale investigation.

In a statement last night a spokesman for the HSENI said it "can confirm that the Police Ombudsman has contacted us in relation to the Greenvale Hotel tragedy, however there are currently no aspects identified which fall within our remit," he said.

The agency had previously confirmed to the Irish News that it was "not involved in the investigation into the Greenvale Hotel tragedy".

Morgan Barnard's mother Maria last night spoke of her fears that another tragedy could take place.

"Young people are at risk today, going out to places where there are big crowds," she said.

"Young people attending crowded venues are not safe until there are further steps taken to prevent this happening again and the Health and Safety Executive need to look at their remit and their duties."

Morgan's father, James Bradley, last night said he was surprised by the response.

"I am a bit shocked that... this is (not) within its remit," he said.

"I would have thought that all this time the Health and Safety Executive would have taken the view that it is paramount that they would have been investigating what happened on the night."

Mr Bradley last week called on justice minister Naomi Long to hold a public inquiry and his solicitor Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, recently wrote to her.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice last night said that "a letter from the legal representatives of one of the families who lost a loved one in the Greenvale tragedy has been received and the minister will respond in due course.”

Mr Bradley believes that matter now requires an urgent response from the minister.

"We need to make sure there is an inquiry and that it is done properly and that the health and safety side of it is investigated," he said.

In a statement spokesman for the NIPSO said ombudsman Margaret Kelly expressed her condolence to the Greenvale families and added the organisation "will consider how best to proceed following the conclusion of any potential criminal matters and after discussion with the families and other stakeholders”.

The Health and Safety Executive was contacted.

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