County Mayor joins virtual ceremony to mark 36th anniversary of Air India bombing

County Mayor joins virtual ceremony to mark 36th anniversary of Air India bombing

Plaque remembering the victims of the 1985 Air India bombing at the memorial garden at Ahakista. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley has participated in a virtual commemoration ceremony to mark the anniversary of Air India Flight 182 following an invitation from the families of the victims of the 1985 terrorist attack.

Cllr Linehan Foley joined Her Excellency Ms Nancy Smyth, Ambassador of Canada and His Excellency Mr Sandeep Kumar, Ambassador of the Republic of India, along with Dr Padmini Turlapati, mother to victims Sanjay and Deepak Turlapati, for the online commemoration that was shared by the families of the victims on YouTube. 

Typically, a commemorative event has been held annually at a memorial garden at Ahakista on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in West Cork, which is attended by the families of those who died on Flight 182.

However, both this year and last the ceremony has taken an online format due to public health guidelines and restrictions on international travel.

Cork County Council and the embassies to Ireland of India and Canada laid wreaths at Ahakista on behalf of the families of the victims and the respective nations, marking the anniversary day, Wednesday, June 23. 

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the victims of the attack and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 

Marian Carey, Principal of Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí laid a wreath on behalf of the school, while students of Rusnacahara National School participated in the form of a music recital.

On June 23, 1985, all 307 passengers and 22 crew were killed when at 8:13am a bomb placed by Sikh terrorists exploded on board the Boeing 747, named Kanishka, about 160km off the southwest coast of Ireland.

Relatives of those killed in the attack later came to Ireland and chose a spot at Akakista on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula which is the closest landmass to the site of the atrocity for a memorial garden on land donated by Cork County Council. 

Speaking on the 36th anniversary of the attack, Cllr Linehan Foley said the memorial garden continues to play an important role.

"The devastating event that took place off the West Cork coast brought tragedy to lives of many families and brought the nations of Ireland, India and Canada together in mourning. 

"The experience has taught us the importance of solidarity when faced with tragedy. 

"36 years on, solidarity has come to the fore of our relationships again, as we support each other through the global pandemic. 

"The memorial garden in Ahakista plays an important role, not just for the families of the victims of Flight 182, but for all of us, serving as a tangible reminder that even in the face of unimaginable loss, we are not alone in our suffering," she said.

"We will continue to show solidarity and support one another through our current struggles, so that we may come together at Ahakista again."

Cork County Council is committed to maintaining the memorial garden at Ahakista, dedicated to all those who died on the Air India Flight 182. 

The virtual commemoration ceremony can be viewed on YouTube.

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