Cookstown disco deaths: Funerals for teenage victims

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Media captionOn St Patrick’s Day, a crush outside a disco in Cookstown killed Lauren Bullock, Morgan Barnard and Connor Currie.

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said a “valley of tears” has been caused by the death of three teenagers at a hotel in Cookstown.

Speaking at the funeral of Morgan Barnard, 17, Archbishop Eamon Martin spoke of the anguish felt by relatives and friends of the children.

Morgan, Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died after a crush at the Greenvale Hotel.

Hundreds of young people were queuing to get into the St Patrick’s Day disco.

Two men, including the hotel’s owner Michael McElhatton, were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter.

Mr McElhatton, 52, has since been released on police bail. The other man, aged 40, remains in police custody.

Among the mourners at Morgan’s funeral at St Patrick’s Church, Dungannon were pupils from schools in Dungannon, and neighbouring Cookstown and Coalisland.

Archbishop Martin said: “Words fail us at times like this. All that really matters, and makes a difference is love and friendship and compassion.

“The shocking events of Sunday last have reminded us that life is very fragile; we need to cherish every moment, and always look for each other, and keep each other safe,” he added.

Fr Aidan McCann, curate of Dungannon, paid tribute to the young man’s character.

“To say that Morgan was well-liked would be an understatement.

“He was a vivacious, charismatic and energetic young man who nobody had a bad word to say about.

“Morgan was a person of character with a great sense of humour with an abundance of wit, always a smile on his face.”

In a statement released though the police, Morgan’s family described him as someone who “always had a smile for everyone and brightened up the classroom with his humour”.

Lauren’s family said she would be remembered as “a very thoughtful and caring young girl, who was outgoing and fun loving”.

Connor’s family thanked everyone who had come to his assistance on the night.

Their deaths have sparked a major police investigation – the PSNI has identified more than 400 young people who were in the queue or the car park on the night.

So far, more than 80 people have been interviewed.

Det Ch Supt Raymond Murray said that while most potential witnesses had been identified, if any more were “still out there” they should come forward.

Officers are examining CCTV footage of the incident and have appealed for any mobile phone footage or photographs of the crush to be passed to investigators.

They have asked people in possession of images not to publish them online but to upload them to the Major Incident Public Portal.

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