Politicians express shock at Cork crash


Political leaders put their election campaigns on hold today to offer their sympathies to the families of those involved in the plane crash at Cork airport.

Six people were killed and six others were injured when a Manx2 airline flight from Belfast to Cork overturned and caught fire while attempting to land in dense fog this morning.

President Mary McAleese expressed her deep shock and sadness at hearing the news. “The President said her thoughts and prayers, and those of all the people of Ireland, are with the families of the deceased and the survivors at this very difficult time," a spokeswoman said.

Later, speaking at Trinity College Dublin, Mrs McAleese said she wished to acknowledge the tragic events at Cork airport this morning.

"Behind the headlines and news reports lie the personal stories of grieving families and friends whose hearts are surely broken as they struggle to come to terms with the abrupt and devastating loss of their loved one. I am especially conscious of the pain being experienced tonight by all of the bereaved as one of the deceased was Brendan McAleese, my husband Martin's cousin," the President said.

"His family have lost a fine and loving husband, father, son and brother and their awful grief is replicated in the lives of all those who lost their loved ones in today's crash.

"No words can ease their pain but I hope they draw some small comfort from knowing that our thoughts and prayers, both here and in homes throughout the country, are with them at this darkest hour," she said.

The President also wished the survivors a speedy and full recovery from their "immense trauma" and praised the "prompt actions" of the airport and hospital emergency personnel involved.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was shocked and saddened by the incident. "My thoughts are with all of those affected by this morning's crash, including the families and friends of those who have died. I also want to send my best wishes and those of the Government to all of those who survived the crash and are being treated in hospital at present."

The Taoiseach said he has been briefed by the Minster for Transport about the crash and the investigations that are now underway.

Fianna Fáil postponed a press briefing on its fiscal policy in Dublin following news of the crash. Party leader Micheál Martin extended his sympathies to the families of victims and paid tribute to the emergency services treating the injured.

"I am greatly saddened to learn of the tragic accident in Cork airport today," he said. "My thoughts and prayers are with those who have sadly lost their lives or have incurred injury. I want to extend my sincere sympathies to their families," he added.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told a press briefing in Dublin that his prayers and the prayers of the country are with those who had lost their lives. The conference stood for a minute's silence as a mark of respect to the victims.

“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to those affected by the tragic accident today in Cork Airport," Mr Kenny said. "My prayers are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives today, and anyone who has been injured.”

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore expressed shock at the crash, saying he was saddened by news of the deaths.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened by the deaths of a number of people in a plane crash at Cork Airport this morning,” Mr Gilmore said. “I wish to extend my sympathy to the families of those who have died in this tragic accident. If reports of the number of fatalities are correct, this is one of the worst air crashes in our recent history.

“Clearly there must be the most comprehensive inquiry possible into all aspects of this accident and appropriate lessons learned to ensure that such disasters can be averted in the future,” he added.

Green Party Senator Dan Boyle also offered his sympathy to the families of all those killed or injured in today's crash.

"News of the crash has come as a dreadful blow to everyone in the Cork area and across the country. Those who are affected by this horrible crash are in our thoughts and prayers," he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said his thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the “shocking” tragedy. “My thoughts are also with those who were injured and I want to wish them a speedy recovery. I want to praise the emergency services who had to cope with this morning’s awful events,” he said.

In a joint statement, Catholic Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross and Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor called for prayers for those who were killed and injured in the crash.

"We express our deepest sympathies to the families of those who have lost their lives following the accident on the Belfast - Cork flight which crashed in Cork airport this morning. Our hearts also go out to those who have been injured and to all who are affected by this terrible tragedy,” they said. "The suddenness and scale of this loss of life is shocking."

Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, the Right Reverend Paul Colton said he was “shocked and hugely saddened” by the news. "The solidarity, love and prayers of us all in the Church of Ireland community go out to all who are caught up in this tragedy: those on the plane and their families and friends; all those in the emergency services who are bringing their professional caring to assist in whatever way they can; those working for the airline; workers at Belfast City and Cork airports and the communities which they serve," he said.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spoke of their shock over the crash.

“This is a terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with the families of the bereaved," Mr Robinson said. “My thoughts are also with the injured and I hope that they will make a full and speedy recovery.”

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson said: “This is a terrible tragedy. I offer my profound condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of those killed and injured. I have spoken to our Ambassador in Dublin who is on his way to Cork and who will be working closely with the Irish authorities.”

He said a special phone line has been opened by the British Embassy in Dublin on 01 205 3780.