A tragic incident at a St. Patrick’s Day party in Northern Ireland has turned “joy and celebration” into “shock and sadness,” says Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh.
Three teenagers were killed in the crush of a crowd at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, after a crowd of young people tried to get into a holiday disco.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, were named by the Police Service of Northern Ireland as the victims. Another 16-year-old girl remains hospitalized.
“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 traumatized, and the emergency services and staff who responded,” Martin said in a March 18 statement.
“The sudden loss of any life makes us stop in our tracks and ask, ‘Why?’ – but when the lives of three young people are taken away so abruptly, and in the fullness of their youth and potential, we are left speechless and the grief is overwhelming. Words are inadequate at times like this: Only compassion, love and faith can offer consolation to their loved ones and a glimpse of hope in the resurrection of Christ,” the archbishop continued.
The PSNI said a major investigation has been launched and that a specialist team of detectives has been assigned to the inquiry.
“They will seek to establish the full circumstances of this dreadful incident. This will be an extensive investigation with potentially hundreds of witnesses, many of whom are teenagers,” said Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd.
“I can understand that there may be some reluctance to contact police if you are underage, but please do not be concerned. We are investigating the deaths of three young people, young people just like you. That is our focus. We want to be able to give their families answers and your recollection of the events as they unfolded is crucial,” Todd said.
Martin said that the local church “will reach out with Christian faith, love and compassion to let these heartbroken families and school friends know that they are not alone in their grief and loss.”