By Ray O’Hanlon
The review of all existing evidence into the crash of the Aer Lingus plane St. Phelim in March 1968 is "almost complete," according to a spokesman for Ireland’s minister for public enterprise, Mary O’Rourke.
O’Rourke’s department has been working on the report since last year. It was expected to see the light of day at the beginning of this year but has taken longer to compile than originally expected. The report/review is now expected to emerge at the end of this month, or early July.
O’Rourke’s spokesman said that the report’s full contents would be made public. He stressed that the document was not a new investigation, but rather a review of all existing and available evidence into a crash that killed all 61 people on board the four-engine Vickers Viscount.
On March 24, 1968, the St. Phelim fell from 17,000 feet into the sea close to Tuskar Rock, a lighthouse off the County Wexford coast. One explanation for the crash that has been taken seriously by many over the years is that the plane was struck by a stray British missile fired from an RAF base in Wales or a target drone from the same source.
Whether the new review delivers a definitive answer to the missile/drone question is unclear. If it does not, the mystery of the St. Phelim is fast heading for even deeper waters.
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Speaking of deep waters, reports are about that a wealthy South African businessman, Sarel Gous, wants to build a replica of the Titanic at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, site of the original ship’s construction back in 1911-12.
Titanic II, however, would be an even larger ship than the original; indeed, if the plans fan out, it would be the largest passenger ship afloat.
Such a construction project would be a boost indeed for a shipyard that has fallen on troubled times. H&W recently lost out to a French shipbuilder in the bid to build the Queen Elizabeth 2. That would never have happened in the "good old days."
Of course, the good old days in Belfast were not necessarily good for everyone. Before Mr. Gous becomes too embroiled in his Titanic dream, somebody should send him a copy of the MacBride Principles, a set of fair-employment guidelines that were just a pipe dream around East Belfast 90 years ago.