Michael Kingston, whose father was one of 50 people who died in a massive explosion at a French tanker on Whiddy Island 42 years ago, said they were seeking an apology from the Irish government for “appalling failures” .
He was speaking before a documentary that will air on the Co Cork tragedy on RTÉ Radio 1 this weekend, ‘Documentary On One: Fire In The Sky’.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Kingston, who is the vice-chairman of the Franco-Irish Association of Parents and Friends of the Betelguese, said his father had died in “appalling circumstances” where “no rescue had only occurred due to catastrophic security failures on the night ”.
He said the families of the French, Irish and British victims who died that night had to live with this and the fallout afterwards, without “any resolution”.
Mr Kingston, who is now an international maritime lawyer, said he has therefore worked on international regulations to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again.
He believes that “a number of people lied in court about what happened that night and tried to blame the tanker.”
“There has been a total failure in the administration of justice by the Irish state,” he said.
He also claimed that the regulatory system that was in place as the disaster approached was “appalling”.
“The focus was on what the companies did, but there was never a spotlight on what our departments were doing and unfortunately we are still in a similar situation today where we don’t apply no regulation. “
He said families have also endured “the failure of the Irish government to support the commemorations”, adding: “We have had enough”.
He said that due to “failures of modern regulations to prevent further deaths in the Irish Sea”, the families of the victims are bringing an action to have the death records of their loved ones rectified.
“My father is determined to be dead by drowning, due to accidental drowning, when in fact he died due to illegal breaches of regulations,” said Mr. Kingston.
He said they had never received an apology from the state for the “appalling regulatory failures” and in the documentary, they call on the government to “show decency, come together and apologize for the appalling failures of the administration of justice and the failure to enforce regulations. “.
RTÉ Archives: Whiddy Island Disaster
Mr Kingston said they are also calling on the government to take regulations more seriously to protect fishermen and others at sea.
In the documentary, firefighter Brendan O’Donoghue describes the night of the tragedy, seeing the fire and the sound of it “roaring”.
“Something amazing. Burning oil is like, you can imagine a frying pan burning, about ten million of them roaring. The oil was pumped from the tanker and back up to it. I was just feeding the fire, “he said.
He remembered how scary it was as they walked towards the fire.
“As soon as we got to the point where we could see what was in front of us, we said ‘no one could survive this… all the water was on fire’.