Leading article

Sense of shock and disbelief at Greenvale Hotel tragedy

Amid the shock and distress after three teenagers lost their lives in Cookstown on Sunday night, the overriding question is how such an appalling tragedy could happen?

What unfolded outside the Greenvale Hotel as a large crowd of young people waited to get into a St Patrick's night disco, is truly horrific and almost beyond comprehension.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said preliminary investigations show there was a crush towards the front door of the venue and in that crush people seem to have fallen.

A number of eyewitness accounts have set out in greater detail the terrifying experiences of those caught up in the crush, with reports of bodies piled on top of one another, young people unable to move or struggling to breathe and the frantic efforts of those who tried to save their friends.

It was a scene of chaos, horror, panic and alarm as partygoers realised the enormity of what was happening in front of them.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire community are with the families of the three students who died, Lauren Bullock (17), Morgan Barnard (17) and 16-year-old Connor Currie.

Their parents and wider family circle will need every support in the days and weeks ahead.

It is hard to believe that three teenagers who had headed out for a night of fun with their friends could be so cruelly taken, their young lives cut short.

There is also the impact on the young people caught up in this traumatic event.

Those who witnessed awful scenes at the Greenvale Hotel, who lost friends or were affected in any way by what happened, will need considerable support and the opportunity to avail of specialist counselling services over the coming days.

While there is a widespread sense of grief and disbelief as people come to terms with what has taken place, the PSNI is continuing with its investigation, which will need to establish the precise sequence of events at the hotel.

There are clearly questions to be asked in relation to safety, risk and crowd control measures and the families who have lost children deserve to be given all available information.

As part of that process, it is important that young people who were at the Greenvale come forward to the police and provide statements and eyewitness accounts.

When something this terrible happens, we have to find out what went so badly wrong and help to prevent anything similar happening again.

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