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'We don't want sympathy, we want the truth': Parents of boy killed at disco say questions must be answered

Three teenagers died in a queue for a disco at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on St Patrick’s Day.

download Lauren, Connor (top right) and Morgan (bottom right). Source: Euphoria All Star Cheerleading/Edendork GAC/Facebook

THE PARENTS OF one of the three teenagers who died in an apparent crush outside a hotel in Co Tyrone have said serious questions need to be answered about the tragedy.

Morgan Barnard (17), Lauren Bullock (17) and Connor Currie (16) were killed in a queue for a disco at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on St Patrick’s Day.

Morgan’s parents Jimmy Bradley and Maria Barnard have said questions need to be answered about how police handled the situation.

In an interview with BBC Northern Ireland, Bradley said: “We want to get to the absolute truth, from start to finish, the absolute truth and accountability from whoever that may be.

“And of course prevention in the future, so this doesn’t happen another young person.”

The PSNI referred the case to the Police Ombudsman in March. At the time, the PSNI said the police officers who were first on the scene “withdrew to await further police support”.

More than 630 young people were in or near the queue when the tragedy occurred, the police previously confirmed.

During the interview, Bradley said: “I want the public to know the truth, I don’t want to make enemies with the public, nor do I want sympathy. I just want them to know the truth of what happened.

“There are questions to be answered after the police arrived, and those questions are with the Ombudsman who are going to come to a conclusion and not an opinion.

If those questions don’t get to the truth for myself and Maria and Morgan, well it may well be the case that we need an independent inquiry to get to the truth of why our son died at the Greenvale Hotel that night.

Barnard recalled receiving a phone call telling her about the incident.

“I hung up the phone and I was panicking and I rang Craigavon Hospital,” she said.

“The nurse asked if [Morgan] had any distinguishing marks and I said, ‘No he’s just a normal teenage lad, tall, fair hair’.

“She asked if he wore braces and once she said that, I just knew.”

Another boy stayed with Morgan

Morgan’s parents also told the BBC they were contacted after Morgan’s death by a young man who stayed with him until paramedics arrived.

“We spoke to a young guy who wasn’t a friend of Morgan’s but who stayed with him until paramedics reached him while he was lying in the ground,” Bradley said.

The young boy didn’t know Morgan but waited with him so he wouldn’t be alone, Bradley said he and his wife “very much” appreciated this.

Last week, the couple received a public apology from PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton for comments he made about the PSNI’s initial response.

In April, Hamilton described the actions of the officers who were first on the scene as “brave” but he added there were “questions to answer” as they held back to await support.

Morgan’s family met with Hamilton last week and he then apologised for describing officers’ actions as “brave”.

“No public commentary by me or any police officer will detract from the independent investigation,” he stated. 

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Órla Ryan

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