Northern Ireland

Cookstown crush: Owner says hotel will stand during investigation

Greenvale Hotel Image copyright PACEMAKER

The owner of a Cookstown hotel where three teenagers died has said he will not demolish it before investigations are over.

Morgan Barnard, 17, Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died as they queued to get into the Greenvale Hotel on St Patrick's Day.

This hotel building itself is a key piece of evidence in the inquiry.

Some of the bereaved families had expressed alarm at a planning application to redevelop the site.

Questions have arisen over the response of the first police officers to the scene, they waited for an ambulance before approaching the crowd.

The matter has been referred to the police ombudsman to independently investigate.

That is running alongside a criminal investigation and two men, including the hotel owner, remain on bail.

Relatives of those who died expressed surprise at a planning application to demolish the Greenvale and replace it with houses.

Darragh Mackin, who acts for the family of Morgan Barnard, said his family are "cautious and nervous" about plans to demolish the hotel, adding they may take legal action to stop the building's removal.

Image copyright Edendork GAC/Family/Facebook
Image caption Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and 16-year-old Connor Currie died after the incident

However, the hotel owner Michael McElhatton has promised that there will be no changes to the hotel in the near future.

"There are weddings booked at Greenvale up to 2022 and assurances have been provided to families that all these bookings will be honoured," a spokesperson for Mr McElhatton said.

"There are no plans to make any change to the hotel or its operations for at least the next four years."

In March, Mr McElhatton said he was "deeply shocked and saddened by the traumatic events".

Police launched an investigation after the deaths of the three teenagers on 17 March.

They said more young people could have been killed after CCTV showed as many as 400 people outside the hotel.

Detectives have traced 160 witnesses to the incident, which remains under investigation.

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