'Deeply upsetting' comments – Police Chief apologies to parents of boy who died in St Patrick's Day disco crush tragedy

A POLICE Chief has apologised for comments he made that ‘ deeply upset’ the parents of a teenage boy who died in a crush at a disco on St Patrick’s Day.

The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton met with the parents of 17-year-old Morgan Barnard, who died alongside Lauren Bullock (17) and Conor Currie (16) in a crush outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone on March 17.

In the days following the tragedy, it emerged that police arrived on the scene as it was unfolding, but withdrew to await further support.

Their actions are now being investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

George Hamilton said the initial officers were “brave”, which “deeply upset” Morgan Barnard’s family.

“Not only do we seek a retraction of the comments, but it is also imperative that an independent investigation is conducted so as to ensure that the truth about the events at Cookstown is known to the public,” his father James Bradley told the Irish News.

Following his meeting with Morgan’s parents, the Chief Constable issued a statement apologising for any distress he caused.

“This afternoon I met with James and Maria, the parents of Morgan Barnard, to offer my sincere condolences on the loss of their son who tragically died at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on St Patrick’s Day,” he said.

“I expressed my deep regret if any comment that I have made in relation to the incident has caused the family any further distress. That was never my intention and I have apologised. 

“No public commentary by me or any police officer will detract from the independent investigation being conducted into the initial PSNI response by the Police Ombudsman’s office.

“The investigation into the circumstances that led to the deaths of Morgan Barnard, Lauren Bullock and Connor Currie continues and we are very grateful to all the witnesses who have come forward with information.”

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