In the first of a two-part Scannal special, Pádraig Ó Drisceoil investigates Air India Flight 182 which disappeared from the radar in air traffic control in Shannon in June of 1985.

Early morning on the 23rd of June, 1985, Air India Flight 182 disappeared from the radar in air traffic control in Shannon. Air traffic controllers tried to make radio contact with the jumbo jet but to no avail. The subsequent air/sea rescue off the Irish coast was on a scale never before seen in Ireland: all 329 people on board perished. More than 80 of the 329 who died were children.

In this two-part Scannal special, reporter and West Cork native Padraig O'Driscoll pieces together, through first-hand testimony, archive and interview, the events of that night and retraces the relatives’ decades-long battle for justice. He meets the first responders and Irish lifeboat, navy and medical staff who found themselves at the centre of an international terrorism incident and travels to Canada to meet the families of the victims, who recall their horrific journeys to Cork to identify their loved ones’ remains in 1985 – and their search, over four decades, for answers and justice.

His investigation also reveals the unique bond that formed between the people of Ahakista in West Cork and the families of the victims throughout that painful first year – and the continuing love and respect that both communities hold for one another forty years on.

Pádraig Ó Drisceoil

In Canada Pádraig uncovers a very different narrative: a saga of botched police investigations and failed arrests, witness intimidation and murder, destroyed evidence and the collapse of the most expensive trial in Canadian history. And a community of relatives of the victims who feel marginalised and forgotten by the state. In the aftermath of the disaster, expressions of sympathy were sent by the Canadian authorities to the Indian state – yet the vast majority of the victims were Canadian citizens. Many of the victims’ families wonder whether things might have been different if those who died in the bomb had been white Canadians.

As Pádraig picks through the bungling efforts of the Canadian security forces in their long and futile pursuit of justice, one of the key suspects is murdered outside his office in Vancouver, throwing the 1985 Air India disaster back onto the front pages again in 2022.

This is the first time the story of the Air India disaster has been pieced together in this way on Irish television. It is a powerful story of human tragedy – but also of the families’ grace, resilience and dignity in the face of enormous loss and injustice. For anyone who has ever visited the Air India memorial in Ahakista and seen the faces of the victims on the monument, this powerful two-part Scannal special will remind them of why the world should never forget.

Go luath ar maidin ar an 23 Meitheamh 1985, d'imigh Eitilt 182 Air India den scáileán in aonad rialaithe aerthráchta na Sionainne.

Rinne na rialtóirí aerthráchta iarracht teagmháil a dhéanamh ar an raidió leis an ábhalscaird ach níor éirigh leo. Ní fhacthas tarrtháil aeir/farraige chomh mór seo riamh cheana amach ó chósta na hÉireann: maraíodh gach duine den 329 duine a bhí ar bord. Ba leanaí iad breis is 80 duine den 329 duine a bhásaigh.

Sa Chéad Chlár den Scannal speisialta dhá chlár seo, déanfaidh an tuairisceoir as Iarthar Chorcaí ó dhúchas, Pádraig Ó Drisceoil, cur síos ar an méid a tharla an oíche úd trí úsáid a bhaint as fianaise phearsanta, as ábhar cartlainne agus agallaimh, agus rachaidh sé siar ar an troid atá ar bun ag daoine muinteartha na marbh leis na deicheanna de bhlianta ar son an chirt. Casfaidh sé leis na chéad fhreagróirí, le lucht bhád tharrthála na hÉireann agus leis an bhfoireann leighis a bhí anois lárnach in eachtra idirnáisiúnta sceimhlitheoireachta an oíche úd agus labhróidh sé le teaghlaigh roinnt de na daoine a bhásaigh a thráchtfaidh ar an aistear uafásach a bhí le déanamh acu go Corcaigh sna seachtainí agus sna míonna i ndiaidh na heachtra chun coirp a ndaoine muinteartha a aithint.

Nochtann a fhiosrúchán chomh maith an ceangal ar leith a tháinig chun cinn idir muintir Ahakista in Iarthar Chorcaí agus muintir na ndaoine a bhásaigh le linn na chéad bhliana pianmhara sin – agus an cion agus an meas atá fós ag an dá phobal sin ar a chéile daichead bliain níos déanaí.

Labhraíonn na teaghlaigh ar fad go geanúil ar an tacaíocht a thug muintir na háite in Iarthar Chorcaí dóibh i ndiaidh na tubaiste – agus go háirithe ar an mbealach a chaith siad leis na teaghlaigh sin nach bhfuair coirp a ndaoine muinteartha ar chor ar bith. Taobh istigh de bhliain, bhí áit aimsithe in Ahakista le haghaidh leacht cuimhneacháin. Tá sé suite ar imeall an uisce, chomh gar agus is féidir don láthair a ndeachaigh an t-eitleán i bhfarraige. Tá an turas go dtí an suíomh déanta ag go leor teaghlach ó 1985 agus tá dáimh láidir anois idir na teaghlaigh sin agus muintir na háite, dáimh a deir muintir na ndaoine a bhásaigh a chuidíonn leo dul i ngleic lena gcaillteanas doshamhlaithe.

I gClár 2 den Scannal speisialta dhá chlár seo, rachaidh Pádraig go Ceanada, áit a dtugtar insint an-éagsúil ar an scéal dó: scéal casta faoi ghabhálacha nár éirigh leo, fiosrúcháin a ndearna na póilíní praiseach díobh, a raibh imeaglú á dhéanamh ar fhinnéithe, ar tharla dúnmharuithe, ar milleadh fianaise agus mar a thit an triail is costasaí riamh i stair Cheanada as a chéile. Agus mar a airíonn pobal dhaoine muinteartha na ndaoine a bhásaigh go bhfuil imeallú á dhéanamh orthu agus go bhfuil dearmad déanta ag an stát orthu.

I ndiaidh na tubaiste, rinne údaráis Cheanada comhbhrón le stát na hIndia, cé gur saoránaigh de chuid Cheanada a bhí sa chuid is mó de na daoine a bhásaigh. Níl a fhios ag teaghlaigh na ndaoine a bhásaigh cibé an mbeadh athrú scéil ann dá mba daoine geala as Ceanada iad na daoine sin a bhásaigh de bharr na buamála.

Fad is a bhíonn Pádraig ag tochailt tríd an bpraiseach d’iarracht a rinne fórsaí slándála Cheanada agus na teaghlaigh i bhfad ag iarraidh ceart a bhaint amach gan aon toradh, caitear duine de na daoine is mó a bhfuil amhras faoi lasmuigh dá mhonarcha in Vancouver, eachtra a chuireann tubaiste Air India sa bhliain 1985 ar ais ar leathanaigh tosaigh na nuachtán arís sa bhliain 2022.

Tuesday 25th October, 7.00pm ar RTÉ 1