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Editorial Tuskar Rock mystery

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

According to a report in last weekend’s Sunday Independent, Irish government Minister Mary O’Rourke believes that a collision with either a British target drone or missile brought down the Aer Lingus Viscount plane St. Phelim on March 24, 1968.

"Mrs. O’Rourke is said by reliable sources to have ‘no doubt’ that the air disaster, which claimed 61 lives, was not caused by normal aircraft failure," the paper’s front-page report stated.

O’Rourke is no fool. As a government minister, it is safe to say, her sources are well informed. That she has not publicly stated what she knows is itself something of a mystery. But politics and relations between nations can be easily disturbed. Caution is more than a politician’s friend. It is, at times, an absolute necessity. Besides, O’Rourke herself may well be lacking in documentary proof that some force other than mechanical failure was afoot in the sky off County Wexford that fateful day almost 31 years ago.

Certainly, it is most frustrating for relatives and friends of the dead that the 30-year rule covering the release of confidential government papers did not throw up anything more than copies of a few condolence letters. The Irish government archives are known to be in a messy state and the provision of cabinet papers is something of an annual pot-luck exercise. But it seems ridiculous that somebody in the archives, or in government, has not gone out of his or her way to specifically retrieve, from dusty shelves, the Tuskar Rock documents.

Of course, the Irish papers might well be inconclusive anyway. Which leaves the British documents. There is certainly great interest with regard to the British investigation into the matter. But as we all know, Britain is apt to be a most secretive society. Well, secrecy has its price. In this case, it is a story that will not go away — and should not go away.

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