Saturday next will mark the anniversary of the worst loss of life in a air crash over the Irish Sea. It was March 24th 1968 when Aer Lingus Flight EI-AOM Flight 712 ‘St Phelim’ crashed near Tuskar Rock off Wexford all on board the Viscount airliner perished.
The crash is still the subject of controversy with some believing that there was military involvement in the crash due to testing of missiles at the Aberporth range in West Wales. This is denied by the United Kingdom although an initial Irish government enquiry pointedly did not rule it out.
Another theory was that mechanical failure occurred – although why the plane sent no distress message is unclear as it took approx 10/12 mins to fall from it cruising height into the sea.
The Celtic League (as part of our Military Monitoring) campaigned for many years over the issue and corresponded with both the Irish and British government and the UK MOD. We were part of a more general campaign which saw a new enquiry eventually set up by the Irish government – but by then many records including military logs had been lost or destroyed.
Sadly the conclusions of the new enquiry still left questions unanswered for relatives of the crash victims such as Jerome McCormick.
In July of 2017 Jerome travelled to the Isle of Man to personally thank the Celtic league and was interviewed by reporter James Davis at Manx Radio (link):
Mr McCormick’s quest for answers continues and whilst it was good of him to make the effort to thank our organisation which highlighted the issue for over two decades I just wish we could have found conclusive answers. As it is for some the uncertainty continues half a century later.
Note: The quite copious correspondence of the Celtic League on this incident and our general military monitoring files are lodged in the Manx National Heritage Library – other related correspondence is archived at the National Library of Wales.
pp Celtic League