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  • #61

    For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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    • #62
      How far away would the plume have been visible? I have a memory of being able to see it from my home in the western suburbs of Cork...but I was 6 and quite susceptible to believing whatever I was told (especially by my older brother)

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      • #63
        Heard nan interview on the radio that there no Government representative at the service today

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Bravo20 View Post
          How far away would the plume have been visible? I have a memory of being able to see it from my home in the western suburbs of Cork...but I was 6 and quite susceptible to believing whatever I was told (especially by my older brother)
          There was an identifiable plume of smoke visible to the west in the sunset from my recollection in from my then home in East cork. Where we lived had more or less flat ground to bantry bay so it was visible, if you looked, from most parts of the County. It is only fifty miles though, and the weather was mild and clear for that time of year. (we had a particularly mediocre summer in 1979 as a result).
          For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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          • #65

            For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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            • #66
              Whiddy Island disaster: ‘It is something that has never gone away’
              The memorial event also served to highlight the simmering sense of injustice felt by many, writes Noel Baker.

              Laying of wreaths and prayers to mark the 40th anniversary of the Betelgeuse disaster at the Abbey Cemetary in Bantry, Co Cork. Pictures: Dan Linehan


              Five lonely islands off the coast of Whiddy — a mesh of rusty iron and concrete, home to the gannets and the odd seagull. But yesterday came some special visitors.
              Out on the gently rippling sea the ferry boat brought the families of those who, 40 years ago to the day, lost their lives in the Whiddy Island oil disaster. It was here, back when the five steel and concrete outposts formed the Gulf Oil jetty, that fire consumed much of the Betelgeuse tanker, when oil spilled across the water and fire blew into the sky. Yesterday was the first time that many of those on board the ferry had ever gotten to the scene, the closest previous visitors had ever been. History and memory was in the air.
              Everyone was outside as the relatives tossed yellow and red roses into the water near the remnants of the jetty — everyone, bar one. Inside the ferry, Teresa Shanahan was momentarily lost in her thoughts, twirling a sweet wrapper in her fingers like a rosary bead. Her husband, Liam Shanahan, was one of those lost that night. She broke from her reverie and began chatting with an old friend. “I’ve been there and done that,” she said, adding politely that she didn’t want to speak further. After all, it’s been there every day for the past 40 years.
              Outside on the rear deck, her daughter Ann Shanahan took it all in. Earlier, at the cemetery as a piper led the cortege to the Betelgeuse memorial, she was in tears. It was tough.

              Ann Shanahan, Ballydehob, Co Cork, who lost her father Liam, on the ferry boat out to lay flowers and wreaths, with her husband Conor and daughters Laura and Emma.
              “There is a sense of anger and loss but we are trying to celebrate safety as well,” she said on deck. “It is something that has never gone away.”

              Ann, who now lives in Cork, was echoing what Michael Kingston, who lost his father, Tim, in the disaster, had said when he spoke at the Memorial Mass earlier at St Finbarr’s Church. The service celebrated the lives of those lost, and of relatives who have died along the way. Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, said the suffering for many had been intensified because the bodies of their loved ones were never recovered. They live on in our memories, he said, adding: “We are all pilgrims on the streets of time.”
              But the event also illustrated the bond between the French and Irish families. Much of the service was replayed in French and French flags flew in many parts of Bantry, including outside the tourist office and at the water’s edge on the way out to the cemetery. The LÉ James Joyce rested in the bay and Irish naval personnel formed a guard of honour as the families entered the church, led again by the piper. Wreathes from as far away as Alaska and Iceland were laid on the steps.

              Inside, it was standing room only, with pews reserved for the families and also for organisations such as the RNLI and the air ambulance. Two specially prepared books in memory of the victims and put together by local school children were presented — one will stay in Bantry, one will return to France.

              Michael Kingston speaks at the Betelgeuse disaster 40th anniversary Mass at St Finbarr’s Church, Bantry, Co Cork. Michael’s father Tim was killed on the night.

              It also served to highlight the simmering sense of injustice felt by many. Some people might think that after 40 years an event like this might mean a full stop, but in fact, it has opened up new things. From the altar, Michael Kingston declared it “the day of the underdog”, and let go. The Taoiseach should issue a public apologies to the families of those who died, he said, and those deaths should be declared unlawful deaths.

              Addressing some of his remarks directly at the senior government minister in attendance, Fine Gael junior minister Jim Daly, Michael railed at the absence of his senior colleagues, including those whose portfolio covers maritime safety.

              Nora Kingston who lost her father Tim, before placing a hydrangea in the sea during 40th anniversary commemorations of the Betelgeuse disaster at the Whiddy Island pier in Bantry, Co Cork.

              He said it was “Trump-esque”, referring also to correspondence he had sent to various ministers at different times in recent years in his capacity as an internationally recognised and award-winning lawyer who specialises in maritime law and safety at sea. In almost each instance, he received no response, yet within months of sending out one batch of correspondence, Rescue 116 pilot Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Capt Mark Duffy and winch crew Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith were killed in the tragedy off Blacksod off Co Mayo.

              Dara’s father, John, was present yesterday in Bantry, making a presentation to a new cadet.
              For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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              • #67
                Michael said there has been investigations, but there had never been an investigation of Ireland’s maritime framework in relation to that incident. It was another failing, a theme he said went back to before the time his own father was taken. Things left undone, a dereliction of duty, the failure to properly administer justice.

                He said Mr Daly now faced “an Andy Burnham moment”, referring to the British Labour MP for Liverpool who helped kickstart the campaign which ultimately led to the fresh Hillsborough Inquiry and subsequent legal actions. His lengthy, forceful address, delivered in even tones, felt like the vocal equivalent of someone upending a table. He received a lengthy standing ovation when he stopped speaking. One person among the throng, scientist Jack O’Sullivan, said: “In my 76 years, that is the most important speech I have heard. Every word is true.”

                A lone piper with French ambassador Stéphane Crouzat and Michael Kingston, who represented the families, leading the families of victims of the Betelgeuse disaster to the ceremony at the memorial at the Abbey Cemetary in Bantry, Co Cork.
                Even those not present articulated the same view. In a message conveyed from France, Ginette Ravaleau, who lost her husband 40 years ago and who broke her hip before Christmas, said “the tanker was a bomb”. Her husband died “totally intact”, from hypothermia.
                Back on the ferry, Thibaud Spitzbarth was watching over his two children, two-year-old Gabrielle and baby Victor, aged just three months. Thibaud was only six when his father, Jean, died in the disaster. He said people carry those thoughts and feelings in their own ways. “I will be proud of having brought my kids with me these days, so they know. Five years from now I will be able to tell them they were there.”

                Liam Shanahan, born the night his father died on Whiddy Island, at the anniversary Mass.

                Tim Kingston’s own boat had been sailed over to the remains of the jetty and renamed ‘Forever Remembered’ for the event.
                The flowers hit the water and after a while the ferry boat carrying the party coasted by the fading jetty — five gnarled standing stones. Maybe it was a trick of the light, but it seemed like the current was drawing the floating roses ever closer to them.
                https://www.irishexaminer.com/breaki...ay-896431.html
                For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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                • #68

                  For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Tom McSweeney was the first reporter on the scene 40 years ago. Now retired he has a very interesting podcast covering the commemoration.

                    https://www.mixcloud.com/CRY104FM/#follow
                    For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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                    • #70


                      42 years this morning.
                      R.I.P.
                      For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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                      • #71
                        Taoiseach urged to make State apology over Whiddy Island disaster (irishexaminer.com)

                        Taoiseach urged to make State apology over Whiddy Island disaster

                        Micheál Martin needs to make an 'appropriate, lengthy, honest, and heartfelt' apology over 1979 disaster off coast of Bantry, says maritime lawyer
                        Michael Kingston throwing flowers in the sea in memory of his father Tim on the 40th anniversary of the Betelgeuse disaster at the Whiddy Island pier in Bantry, Co Cork. File picture: Dan Linehan

                        SAT, 02 OCT, 2021 - 18:03
                        CIANAN BRENNAN

                        A group representing the loved ones of the Whiddy Island disaster victims has called for the Taoiseach to make a State apology this week in the Dáil regarding the failings highlighted by the incident.

                        Speaking in the wake of the broadcast of Fire In The Sky, an RTÉ Radio documentary on the history of the disaster, Michael Kingston said the Taoiseach needs to make an “appropriate, lengthy, honest and heartfelt” apology to the families, workers and rescue services, and residents of Whiddy Island who were “forced into terrible danger unnecessarily” on the night of January 7, 1979.

                        He said that danger had resulted from “breaches of safety and the State failure to ensure safe operations”.

                        Mr Kingston, a maritime lawyer and vice president of the French Irish Relatives and Friends of the Betelgeuse group whose own father Tim died in the disaster, said the Taoiseach likewise needs to “urgently carry out a root and branch review of Ireland’s current failure to implement international maritime regulation."

                        The explosion aboard the MV Betelgeuse, a French oil tanker which was docked at the Whiddy Island tanker jetty at the time, eventually caused the deaths of all 51 people who had been either on the boat or on the jetty that night - a disaster Mr Kingston described as “shocking, absolutely reprehensible”.

                        Mr Kingston, who has dedicated his life since the disaster to the issue of safety at sea said that the deaths that night had been “unlawful” under the Irish law of the time and that the death certificates need to be rectified in order to underline the right to life provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights.

                        He cited other disasters in Europe, such as the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989 in Sheffield, England, which have since had the loss of life involved restated as being “unlawful death.”

                        “This fundamental right of the victims has been ignored here in Ireland, despite obvious regulatory wrongdoing directly causative of their death, and the Government has repeatedly failed to meet to discuss this,” Mr Kingston said.

                        Asked if he believes there is a reluctance to reform the system in place, he said it is a “multimillion-dollar question”, adding he believes there is a “cultural problem” within the administration of maritime safety which has “never been fixed.”

                        “I’ve moved heaven and earth to make sure we investigate maritime disaster correctly, and we’re simply not doing that,” he said.


                        Documentary On One: Fire In The Sky - a tragedy in Bantry (rte.ie)
                        Documentary On One: Fire In The Sky - a tragedy in Bantry

                        Updated / Saturday, 2 Oct 2021 16:26

                        Documentary maker Michael Lawless writes about his latest RTÉ Documentary On One production, Fire In The Sky listen to it above.

                        I first came across this story on Westminster Bridge, London while speaking to Michael Kingston, a maritime lawyer from the village of Goleen in West Cork.

                        Michael was recalling to me a near-death experience of the 2017 Westminster Bridge Terrorist attack that he luckily escaped. While looking out on the River Thames, he shared a story that still, decades later, upsets and pains him.
                        Siblings Michael and Nora Kingston, whose father Tim Kingston died in the 1979 tragedy
                        It was a story of a tragedy that befell a wider community of the people of West Cork. On Sunday 8th of January 1979, Michael’s father Tim would finish his son’s 4th birthday celebrations at his home with his beloved wife, and three young children before leaving for work.

                        Tim was a pollution control officer for Gulf Oil. They operated an oil tank farm from Whiddy Island in Bantry, Cork.
                        Garda files kept in the garage of Garda Pat Joy, one of the first to see the fire
                        The Island has a history of military defence, after British authorities built fortified batteries on the island in Napoleonic times and in the last months of World War 1 it became the site of a U.S naval air station.

                        In 1966, Gulf Oil was granted permission to construct 12 massive oil tanks on the Island, each one could hold over 80,000 tonnes of crude oil. On this fateful day, not only were the Gulf workers on the island, it was also home to a small population of 63 Islanders.
                        Whiddy Island disaster survivor Brian McGee features in Fire In The Sky
                        (Pic: Tony McElhinney)
                        Four days previous, an oil tanker, a ship that carried tonnes of Arabian crude oil from the Persian Gulf known as the M.V. "Betelgeuse" arrived at Bantry Bay.

                        It was never planned to come to Cork, but the weather was so poor in Sines, South of Lisbon that the Captain was ordered to unload her at Whiddy Island. The crew were French and 42 of them had spent Christmas at sea.

                        As the night turned to morning, a fire broke out at the ship. There were 50 people on and near the ship, many were still asleep on the ship. Minutes later, an explosion occurred and the sonic sound could be heard across West Cork. This ship was now on fire and became a fight to escape.
                        The M.V. "Betelgeuse" tanker on fire (Pic:Tom Burke)
                        Reserve firefighters from across Cork rushed to the scene of this disaster, but there was no land-link to the Island, they had to get boats from Bantry Pier to bring fire fighters to the Island.

                        In our Documentary On One: Fire In The Sky, we hear from those who were there, and can recall the dramatic events of the night.
                        Coroner report of a body not identified, recovered from the accident site
                        On that night, 50 people would die. 42 French citizens, 7 Irish citizens and 1 British citizen. Later that year, the 51st person would die. A Dutch diver who was involved in the recovery process of the ship.

                        A tribunal of inquiry was established and RTÉ’s reporter, on the findings was none other than former President Mary McAleese. She recalls the mood in Bantry, and what happened on the night.
                        RTÉ Current Affairs reporter Mary McAleese in 1979
                        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'.



                        Documentary On One: Fire In The Sky, RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday October 2nd at 2 pm and repeated Sunday, October 3rd at 6 pm - listen to more from Documentary On One here.
                        For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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                        • #72
                          Son of Whiddy victim criticises Gardaí for not pursuing misconduct investigation


                          Michael Kingston throwing flowers in the sea in memory of his father Tim and French family, Thibaud Spitzbarth and his wife Sothea and Gabrelle putting flowrers in the sea for his father Jean during the 40th anniversary of the Betelgeuse disaster at the Whiddy Island pier in Bantry, Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

                          MON, 04 OCT, 2021 - 20:30
                          NOEL BAKER - SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT

                          A maritime lawyer whose father died in the Whiddy Island disaster has criticised Gardaí for not pursuing an investigation into, what he said, was serious misconduct in public office.

                          Michael Kingston, whose father Tim was among those killed in the 1979 disaster near Bantry, had met with senior gardaí to discuss the possibility of a criminal prosecution arising out of issues that he and the EU have highlighted regarding the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

                          Ireland was referred to the European Court of Justice over concerns around the independence of the MCIB in 2018, and last year a ruling by the European court found Ireland was in breach.

                          It found the MCIB's independence was “not guaranteed”, primarily due to the five-person MCIB board including the Department of Transport secretary-general, or his or her deputy, and the Marine Survey Office (MSO) chief surveyor.

                          Mr Kingston had claimed that in addition to a potential conflict of interest, the board also fell short of the required legal standard due to competency.

                          It led gardaí to examine allegations of misconduct in public office in relation to investigations into seafaring tragedies and the implementation of maritime safety regulations.

                          Current Garda Commissioner Drew Harris directed the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI) to investigate the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) and Marine Casualty Investigation Board officials for allegations of misconduct in public office.

                          However, it has now emerged that no criminal prosecution will take place, prompting Mr Kingston to argue that this decision is flawed.



                          Aerial view of the Whiddy Island oil tanker Betelgeuse disaster at Bantry, Co. Cork.
                          In an open letter, co-signed by barrister Ciaran McCarthy and Captain Neil Forde of Marine Hazard Ltd, who had been commissioned to undertake a review of marine safety standards and infrastructure, Mr Kingston said: "I regret to say that those who I am a medium for (multiple whistleblowers from within the Transport Department, former department officials, and current and former MCIB investigators), other deeply concerned civil servants, marine surveyors, and accident investigators who have openly spoken, as well as families of victims, and I, do not accept this decision because it does not make sense in fact and in law."





                          He said he was informed in a meeting with the senior members of An Garda Síochána last June, later confirmed by letter, that "as no issues of criminality arise, the matter is now closed with An Garda Síochána".

                          Mr Kingston also said gardaí had informed him that a charge of misconduct in public office had never been brought in Ireland, and that he is "deeply disappointed" that it appears to be ruled out now regarding the specific alleged breaches he had raised.

                          "We request of you Garda Commissioner, that An Garda Síochána show the bravery and leadership befitting of your organisation, in my opinion, as stated in my admiration explained in my letter of January 8, 2020, to reverse this decision, and pursue the first case of misconduct in public office in Ireland, in addition to the others offences committed, and make a stand for accountability to our citizens," the letter states.

                          The call comes just days after the airing of a new radio documentary on RTÉ Radio One on the Whiddy Island disaster.

                          During the documentary, the families of those who died said there needs to be a State apology and an urgent review of Ireland’s failure to implement international maritime regulation.

                          To listen to the RTÉ Radio documentary on the Whiddy Island disaster, Fire in the Sky, click here.
                          Son of Whiddy victim criticises Gardaí for not pursuing misconduct investigation (irishexaminer.com)
                          For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.

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