The organisation which represents rank and file police has noted that officers were so committed during the Greenvale Hotel tragedy that they actually drove an ambulance to assist paramedics.
Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died after a major crush in the queue to get into a St Patrick’s night party in the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown earlier this year.
In recent days there have been reports that police waited 16 minutes to act after arriving at the scene and that they were warned of issues hours before the tragedy took place.
But yesterday the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) defended the officers involved and asked for space for the PSNI and Police Ombudsman probes.
Speaking in response to media reports, the PFNI Tweeted: “Hearts go out to these parents but surely judgement should wait for the outcome of any investigation? PSNI Officers did their absolute best, even driving the ambulance. There are many other factors to be considered, which would give balance and objectivity.”
On Tuesday the Irish News reported that officers who attended the tragedy failed to intervene for 16 minutes.
The newspaper reported that officers who responded to the emergency call “sat in their vehicles in the hotel car park for five minutes as the tragedy unfolded, before they withdrew”.
“They did not return for 11 minutes, during which time the first of the three victims is believed to have been pulled from a ‘surging’ crowd of teenagers near the hotel entrance.
Grieving parents were originally told that officers withdrew from the hotel “because missiles had previously been thrown at police in the area”, it reported. Initially they were led to understood this had also happened on the night of the tragedy, but later this was corrected after questioning by a family solicitor, it reported.
The paper also reported that a member of the public called police hours before the disco, but the nature of concerns raised were unknown.
The PSNI said that the investigation continues at pace and will for some time given its size and complexity. Given that the incident is subject to investigations by police and the Police Ombudsman, it added, it would not be appropriate to comment on evidence provided by witnesses as it may prejudice any future proceedings.