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Sunday 17 November 2019

Families of Whiddy oil tanker disaster call for justice for the 51

The oil tanker
The oil tanker " The Betelgeuse" which went on fire in Whiddy Island , Co. Cork

Ralph Riegel

A campaign group for the 51 people who died in the Whiddy oil tanker disaster revealed it will take High Court action unless the Government acts to introduce corporate manslaughter regulations and deliver justice for those who died 40 years ago.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins were also urged to "stop their rhetoric" and deliver Hillsborough-style justice for the families of 51 people who died in the disaster, when the French-owned tanker Betelgeuse exploded while unloading its oil cargo on January 8, 1979.

Michael Kingston, who lost his father Tim in the oil tanker explosion and fire which engulfed the west Cork oil terminal jetty, said it was very hurtful to the victims' families to effectively be ignored in their battle for justice.

The Taoiseach and President did not attend a special 40th anniversary memorial in Bantry earlier this month.

Mr Kingston is calling for those responsible for the 51 deaths to be held to account.

A letter has been received from Transport Minister Shane Ross in response to a written Dáil query about the tragedy from TD Clare Daly.

‘Hurtful’: Michael Kingston. Photo: Provision
‘Hurtful’: Michael Kingston. Photo: Provision

But Mr Kingston said it was tantamount to "bluff" and demonstrated "a fundamental failing to understand the urgency of these issues for the protection of our fishermen, maritime community and our rescue services".

Mr Kingston publicly berated the Government for not sending a Cabinet minister to the 40th anniversary memorial in Bantry on January 8 last.

The Bantry-born marine expert warned that the tragedy was entirely avoidable.

He said the campaign for justice for the Hillsborough football tragedy families underlined what can be achieved by invoking Article 2 (The Right to Life) in the European Courts.

Irish Independent

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