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Sunday 22 July 2018

Family's plea as Tuskar Rock air disaster victims remembered

TEARS: A relative throws flowers at the spot where the Tuskar Rock plane tragedy occured 50 years ago. Pictures: Patrick Browne
TEARS: A relative throws flowers at the spot where the Tuskar Rock plane tragedy occured 50 years ago. Pictures: Patrick Browne
Teresa O’Keefe and Eleanor Laffin who lost their sister Hannah Burke and mother Bridget O’Callaghan on the flight. Pictures: Patrick Browne
Elena Lynch and Mary Cowhig, granddaughter and daughter of Joe Cowhig. Pictures: Patrick Browne
Wreckage of the Vickers Viscount aircraft being brought ashore at Rosslare in 1968
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A man who lost his brother in the Tuskar Rock air tragedy 50 years ago has said that what bereaved families desperately want is information rather than commemoration.

Jerome McCormack lost his brother Niall when Flight 712 mysteriously crashed into the sea off the Wexford coast on March 24, 1968, only minutes after leaving Cork Airport en route to London Heathrow. A total of 61 people, including Aer Lingus aircrew and passengers, lost their lives in what remains Ireland's worst domestic air tragedy.

Mr McCormack paid tribute to those who have arranged special memorials for the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

He remains convinced that there has been a cover-up of the true cause of the tragedy. "I need information and not commemoration," he said. "I am not saying that in a snide way at all - I applaud the people in Rosslare and Cork, and I thank them for everything they have done."

Mr McCormack said he remains convinced an errant missile was responsible for bringing down the Vickers Viscount. A report in 2002 by French and Australian experts ruled out the possibility that the Viscount was hit by another aircraft or missile. The international study concluded the cause may have been as a result of structural failure, corrosion, metal fatigue, 'flutter' or a even bird strike.

This weekend, special ceremonies are taking place in Wexford and Cork. A 50th anniversary Mass will be held today at the Church of the Assumption in Ballyphehane, Cork.

A special memorial service took place in Wexford yesterday - the last point of land crossed by the Aer Lingus plane. In Cork, the famous Shandon Bells sounded 61 times yesterday - once for every life lost at Tuskar Rock. Many relatives of those who died that day were in attendance at the ceremonies.

The only warning of the crash was a brief, garbled message from the flight crew that the plane was at 12,000ft and was spinning and descending rapidly. There were no survivors.

Sunday Independent

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