Ireland is to mark the 35th anniversary of the Air India bombing by participating in an online commemoration ceremony on Tuesday.
Mayor of Co Cork, Cllr Ian Doyle will participate in a YouTube remembrance ceremony following an invite from families of the victims of the 1985 terrorist attack on Air India Flight 182 from Montreal in Canada to New Delhi in India. Three hundred and twenty-nine passengers and crew were killed in the atrocity off the west Cork coast.
A commemorative event has been held annually at a memorial garden near Ahakista on the Sheep's Head Peninsula in west Cork, which is attended by the families of those who died on Flight 182.
However, due to current travel restrictions to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic, the families of those who died in the attack have not been able to travel from Canada and elsewhere to remember their loved ones in west Cork.
“It is deeply saddening that the families of those who were so tragically killed on June 23rd 35 years ago cannot visit the memorial in Ahakista in west Cork to mourn their loved ones,” said Mayor Doyle.
“The bereavement and the suffering caused that day and the senseless loss of so many is impossible to fathom. While nothing can remedy that loss, we acknowledge it and carry it together as a community.”
All 307 passengers and 22 crew were killed when at 8.13am on June 23rd, 1985, a bomb placed by Sikh terrorists exploded on board the Boeing 747, named Kanishka, about 160km off the southwest coast of Ireland.
Relatives of those killed in the attack later came to Ireland and chose a spot at Akakista on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula which is the closest landmass to the site of the atrocity for a memorial garden on land donated by Cork Co Council.
Mayor Doyle said the council is committed to maintaining the garden which is dedicated to all those who died on the flight and has over the years become a cherished place for the families to visit and to remember their loved ones.
Mayor Doyle will join Ambassador of India to Ireland, Mr Sandeep Kumar and Chargée d'Affaires of the Canadian Embassy to Canadian citizens living in Ireland, Ms Sabine Nolke, in the online commemorative event.
They will be joined online from Canada in the virtual event by Dr Padmini Turlapti, who lost her two sons, Sanjay (14) and Deepak (11) in the atrocity and who will speak on behalf of all the bereaved families.
The families have asked Cork Co Council to lay a wreath on their behalf in advance of the actual anniversary and record the laying of the wreath for inclusion in the video and council staff have already done so.
Both the Canadian Embassy and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have requested that the council lay a wreath on behalf of the government of Canada, while Mayor Doyle requested the same on behalf of the people of Cork.
A wreath will also be laid on behalf of the Government of India at the memorial wall bearing the names of all those who died.
The virtual commemoration will include a prayer by Church of Ireland rector Canon Paul Willoughby and a Catholic reading from a member of the laity as well as a musical recording by children from nearby Ahakista National School.
The YouTube video will be released at 10am on Tuesday and hosted on the Air India Memorial' channel, set up by the Air India Victims' Families Association at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN6jttcCqiQMGeTCzt_E4wg.