Cork TD calls for apology on Whiddy Island disaster as new documentary airs

Cork TD calls for apology on Whiddy Island disaster as new documentary airs

Aerial view of the Whiddy Island oil tanker Betelgeuse disaster at Bantry, Co. Cork.

A WEST Cork TD says that there are “many many questions which need to be answered” about the Whiddy Island disaster and is calling for a State apology “at the very least”.

Independent TD Michael Collins said the families of the 50 people who died in the tragedy deserve an apology from the State. 

He said: “There are many many questions which are left unanswered. The very least the State should do is apologise. 

"The State needs to investigate the matter but an apology to start with, followed by an investigation, is needed into what went wrong on that ill-fated night.” 

His call follows a call by the families of those who died in the 1979 disaster for justice in a new radio documentary aired on Radio 1 on Saturday.

Michael Collins TD
Michael Collins TD

Fire in the Sky was produced by Donal O’Herlihy and Michael Lawless and looks at how the tragedy unfolded when an oil tanker called the Betelgeuse caught fire at the terminal on Whiddy on January 8, 1979, killing 50 people.

During the salvage operation that followed, a further fatality was recorded when a Dutch diver lost his life.

One person who features in the documentary is Michael Kingston whose father Tim lost his life that night.

Producer Michael Lawless said: "To this day families are still trying to establish the truth, and continue to call for a state apology.

Michael Kingston, son of the late Tim Kingston, a consultant with the United Nations International Maritime Organisation and special advisor with the Arctic Council of States is spearheading a High Court Application on behalf of the French Irish Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Betelgeuse to have the coroners verdicts quashed and established a new inquest with a view to having the deaths categorised as 'unlawful killing.” 

The documentary also features former president of Ireland Mary McAleese, who was a reporter for RTÉ at the time and covered the subsequent tribunal appointed by the Irish government to investigate the incident.

To listen to the documentary visit RTE's Doc on One page.

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