Friday 19 October 2018

Special tributes to remember tragic victims of rail and air disasters

Olivia Kelleher

A MONUMENT with the names of the 18 people who died in the Buttevant train crash is to be unveiled during a service to mark the 25th anniversary of the Co Cork tragedy in August.

And relatives of the 329 people who died in the Air India plane crash will travel to Cork later this month to attend a special memorial service to mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

The Buttevant disaster, which still ranks as one of the worst of its kind in Ireland, happened at 12.45pm on August 1, 1980, when the Dublin to Cork train carrying 230 passengers was derailed as it passed through the closed station of Buttevant.

The train careered into a siding and smashed into a stationary ballast train. Two coaches and the dining car were demolished by the impact.

The Buttevant Rail Disaster Commemorative Committee was set up last year to organise a memorial day to mark the 25th anniversary of the crash.

Spokesperson for the committee, Terri O'Gorman, said a decision was made to erect a monument in Buttevant station because the disaster left an indelible mark on locals in the North Cork town.

"The time is right to commemorate the disaster in a dignified way. There must be a focal point to which relatives of the victims can come to remember their loved ones. People in Buttevant were traumatised by the tragedy but they all rallied around and helped. I think it is important to mark the anniversary."

Irish Rail has agreed to pay for the monument, which will be designed at the company's engineering works in Inchicore, Dublin.

The monument will be unveiled on August 1 during a special ecumenical service in Buttevant station.

Terri O'Gorman says anyone who has a connection with the disaster is welcome at the day of remembrance.

"We are finding it difficult to track down people in the crash who are from the Dublin area but overall we are satisfied with the progress we have made and a number of relatives of victims will be there on the day."

Anyone seeking more information on the service should contact Terri O'Gorman on 086-6019794.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has announced that it will help the families of Air India victims to offset their travel costs when they attend the service in Cork.

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 from Montreal to London, carrying passengers from Vancouver, exploded and crashed off the Cork coast. All 329 people on board, mostly Canadians, were killed in what was the world's deadliest commercial airline attack prior to the September 11 atrocities.

Two Indian-born Sikhs were cleared of bombing the Air India plane in a British Columbia court last March following a two-year trial.

Family members of many of the victims are expected to travel to Ahakista, West Cork, for a memorial service on June 23. Relatives of the dead, locals and those involved in the rescue operation, will attend the service.

The Canadian government has been criticised for not commemorating the disaster with a memorial.

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