Belfast Telegraph

TV’s Sarah Travers joins families at Tuskar Rock air crash memorial

NI presenter’s uncle among the victims of 1968 disaster

By Allan Preston

Northern Ireland TV presenter Sarah Travers has paid tribute to her late uncle, who died in the Tuskar Rock air tragedy 50 years ago.

Still remembered as Ireland's worst domestic air tragedy, 61 people lost their lives on March 24, 1968, when the Aer Lingus flight 712 mysteriously crashed into the sea off the Wexford Coast minutes after leaving Cork Airport.

At Rosslare harbour on Saturday, 90 relatives boarded the Irish naval vessel LE Eithne to lead a flotilla of ships to the crash site near Tuskar Rock. Sharing the experience on social media, Ms Travers said: "Extremely moving memorial service today to remember those who perished 50 years ago today in the Tuskar Rock air disaster; 61 people lost their lives in the Aer Lingus crash off the Wexford coast including my mum's brother, Rory Delaney.

"He was just 22 when he died. His body, along with so many, never found."

She added: "Mum and her twin brother Michael finally got to visit the crash site today thanks to the Irish Navy and the kind people of Rosslare. Rest in peace Rory."

During the service, relatives cast wreaths into the water at 12.15pm to mark the time of the crash. There were no survivors and only 14 bodies were ever recovered from the crash site.

The only warning air traffic controllers received prior to the incident was a brief, garbled message from the flight crew that the plane was at 12,000ft and was spinning and descending rapidly.

Jerome McCormack lost his brother Niall in the tragedy. He said he remains convinced there has been a cover-up about the true cause of the tragedy.

"I need information and not commemoration," he said. "I am not saying that in a snide way at all, I applaud the people in Rosslare and Cork, and I thank them for everything they have done."

Mr McCormack said he believes a wayward missile brought down the Vickers Viscount aircraft. French and Australian experts ruled this out in a 2002 report along with the possibility of a collision with another aircraft.

They concluded the crash may have been caused by structural failure, corrosion, metal fatigue, 'flutter' or even a bird strike.

Eleanor Laffan, who lost her mother and a sister in the tragedy, told broadcaster RTE aboard the Irish Navy vessel on Saturday that it changed her life forever.

"It never went away. There's not a day goes by I don't think of my mum or my sister, they never left me. What I'd love to know today is what happened, to give us closure," she said.

Belfast Telegraph

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