Monday 15 July 2019

Greenvale owner says he will not demolish hotel during investigations into tragedy

Saddened: Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton expresses his grief over the incident. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Saddened: Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton expresses his grief over the incident. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The owner of the Greenvale Hotel where three teenagers died on St Patrick's Day has said he will not demolish the building before police investigations are over.

Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and 16-year-old Connor Currie died after they were crushed near the hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, in an incident which witnesses described as chaotic.

The BBC reports some of the bereaved families had expressed concern at a planning application which has been submitted earlier this week to redevelop the hotel.

The building itself remains a key piece of evidence into the police investigation into the deaths. Two men, including the hotel owner, remain on police bail over the matter.

The teenagers who died at the Greenvale Hotel were, (left-right) Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie
The teenagers who died at the Greenvale Hotel were, (left-right) Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie

A planning application from the hotel’s owner, Michael McElhatton, 52, was received on Tuesday by Mid Ulster Council for the proposed demolition of the hotel and its replacement with properties and garages, located at 57 Drum Road.

Darragh Mackin, who acts for the family of Morgan Barnard, told the BBC the family are "cautious and nervous" about plans to demolish the hotel, adding they may take legal action to stop the building's removal.

Mr McElhatton, in a statement to the BBC, said their will be no changes to the hotel in the near future.

"There are weddings booked at Greenvale up to 2022 and assurances have been provided to families that all these bookings will be honoured," a spokesperson for Mr McElhatton said.

"There are no plans to make any change to the hotel or its operations for at least the next four years."

A Police Ombudsman investigation has also been undertaken after questions arose over the response of the first police officers to the scene.

The officers waited for an ambulance to arrive before approaching the crowd.

The tragedy happened as a disco took place inside the venue.

More than 400 people had gathered outside the hotel before the crush, police said.

Detectives have traced 160 witnesses to the incident, which remains under investigation.

Belfast Telegraph

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