Widow of UN worker appeals for justice two years after Boeing crash

On the second anniversary of the plane crash in Ethopia that killed her husband Mick and 156 others, Naoise Ryan has written to the Taoiseach urging him to seek support from US President Joe Biden to get justice for victims' families
Widow of UN worker appeals for justice two years after Boeing crash

Naoise Ryan with a photo of her late husband Mick, who died in a plane crash in Ethopia two years ago.

Naoise Ryan, the Cork widow of UN worker Mick Ryan who died in a Boeing crash two years ago on Wednesday, has appealed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin and US President Joe Biden for help in her ongoing fight for justice.

On the second anniversary of the crash in Ethopia that killed her husband and 156 others, Naoise Ryan has written to the Taoiseach urging him to seek support from US President Joe Biden when they speak on St Patrick’s Day.

“Given his own experiences with personal loss, I believe President Biden will be sympathetic to our cause,” she wrote, urging the Taoiseach to help her and the families of other victims to get justice, accountability and transparency from aircraft-manufacturing company Boeing.

In January, Boeing was fined .5bn (€2bn) for misleading regulators about the safety of its 737 Max planes after investigators found its employees had chosen “the path of profit over candour”, concealed important information and then later covered it up.

Naoise and Mick Ryan with their daughter Saorlaith, who was a flower-girl at Mick's sister Siobhan's wedding in Canada in 2016.
Naoise and Mick Ryan with their daughter Saorlaith, who was a flower-girl at Mick's sister Siobhan's wedding in Canada in 2016.

But, said Ms Ryan, “in spite of Boeing’s clear culpability and criminal conduct, no one, not one single person, has been held to account for two fatal crashes which led to the deaths of 346 people.” 

She said the fine was a small sum for Boeing and most of it would be paid in compensation to airlines affected by the global grounding of the 737 Max, with just 20% going to the victims’ families.

The victims’ families were not consulted about the terms of the US Department of Justice settlement either, contrary to requirements in US law. 

“For those of us that have lost our loved ones, this is not justice. And unlike in many settlements, the Boeing settlement does not require an independent watchdog to be embedded within Boeing to ensure that Boeing’s negligent culture is rectified,” Naoise Ryan told the Irish Examiner.

An investigation into both fatal crashes revealed a “culture of concealment” at Boeing. It also found the crashes were caused by a combination of design flaws, inadequate training, maintenance problems and inadequate oversight.

Last night, Ms Ryan’s US-based legal representatives said: “I know many of the families are outraged by the midnight, last-minute sweetheart deal that Boeing reached with the outgoing Trump administration. 

We are exploring our options, including legal challenges to hold Boeing properly accountable for its prior criminal conduct and corporate irresponsibility, so as to make sure another tragedy never occurs again.” 

Ms Ryan hopes to raise awareness of the case with both the Taoiseach and the US President. She said she owes it to the memory of her husband to seek justice.

The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines flight crash  south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019, in which 157 people were killed. Picture: AP /Mulugeta Ayene
The scene of the Ethiopian Airlines flight crash  south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019, in which 157 people were killed. Picture: AP /Mulugeta Ayene

Michael (Mick) Ryan, from Lahinch in Co Clare, was global deputy chief engineer of the World Food Programme. Last December, he was posthumously awarded the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year 2020.

Ms Ryan’s appeal comes just days after an engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration spoke out to say the US agency overseeing airworthiness didn’t do enough to highlight Boeing Max design flaws.

Safety engineer Joe Jacobsen also said additional system upgrades were necessary before the Max plane, which has already been deemed safe by regulators in the US and EU, was allowed back in the air.

More in this section

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.271 s