The Primate of all Ireland has paid tribute to three teenagers who died following reports of a crush outside a St Patrick’s Day disco.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, died in the tragedy at the Greenvale Hotel, in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
Police said it appeared that people had fallen and then been fatally injured, but are still investigating.
The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, said the joy and celebration of St Patrick’s Day in his archdiocese had given way to shock and sadness as the community tried to come to terms with the “tragic incident”.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Lauren, Connor and Morgan, and with all of those who were caught up in the horror and distress of what happened, including those injured and traumatised, and the emergency services and staff who responded,” he said.
Archbishop Martin noted that the parishes, schools and wider communities of Dungannon, Donaghmore, Cookstown, and others throughout Tyrone and beyond, would be reaching out “with Christian faith, love and compassion” to let the heartbroken families and school friends of the teenagers know that they are not alone in their grief and loss.
“Please join with me in praying for comfort and strength for all the bereaved and injured,” he added.
“I offer, in prayer, words from St Patrick’s Breastplate: ‘Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ to comfort and restore me’.”
Books of condolence were opened this morning at The Burnavon arts centre in Cookstown, at Ranfurly House, Dungannon, and at The Bridewell centre in Magherafelt.
The incident unfolded at around 9.30pm on Sunday 17th March as several hundred people tried to get into the venue in Cookstown.
One teenager who witnessed a crush outside the disco said it was the most frightening moment of her life.
“As I looked down I could see multiple bodies underneath me and as I looked up I could see multiple bodies on top of me,” she said.
“It was the most traumatic, frightening and stressful moment of my life.”
Emergency services attended within minutes and attempted to resuscitate the victims.
Two were taken to hospital critically ill but died later. One died at the scene.
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service’s medical director Dr Nigel Ruddell said: “Everything points towards it being a tragic accident.”
Picture: Greenvale Hotel. (Photo: Liam McBurney/PA).