Anniversary of Staines Air Disaster
Press release17 June 2022
On 18 June 1972, 118 people – among them 12 prominent Irish businessmen - tragically lost their lives in an air crash shortly after they took off from Heathrow airport on their way to Brussels, in what became known as the Staines Air Disaster. The crash remains the worst air accident in British aviation history.
The business delegation was travelling to Brussels for discussions with the European Commission in the aftermath of the successful referendum to approve the Treaty of Accession, which was approved by 83% of the Irish public.
Reflecting on the 50 year anniversary of the tragedy, Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D. said:
“I want to offer my deepest condolences to the families of all the victims of the 1972 Staines Air Disaster on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.
“It is particularly sad that those Irish business leaders who lost their lives in the Staines Air disaster did so when Ireland was on the cusp of the sweeping change that we have witnessed over the last 50 years. The victims of the crash carried with them to Brussels the best of that new Irish and European dual identity- an identity that was courageous, generous and forward-looking.
“In the context of our 50-year anniversary of joining the European Communities, I want to pay particular tribute to these men, who played a crucial role in the successful ratification of the Treaty of Accession in 1972 and in so doing helped steer Ireland into a new era.”
18 June 2022
Notes to editors
Among those who lost their lives included 12 leaders of Irish industry:
• Mr Melville Miller, managing director of Rowntree-Mackintosh;
• Mr C.A. Smith, president of the Confederation of Irish Industry;
• Mr E.J. Gray, director-general of the CII;
• Mr Hugh Kilfeather, Coras Trachtala;
• Mr Michael Rigby-Jones, Irish Ropes Ltd;
• Mr Michael Sweetman, Irish Council for the European Movement;
• Mr Guy Jackson, Arthur Guinness; Mr E.A. Coleman, Irish Steel Holdings;
• Mr M.W. O'Reilly, Dublin Chamber of Commerce;
• Mr O.M. Lochrin, vice-president of the Association of Chambers of Commerce of Ireland;
• Mr F.M. Mooney;
• Mr Ivan Webb, chairman of the Council of the Federated Union of Employers and managing director of G.T. Crampton.