Sioned Williams MS raises concerns over “pause” to mining disaster inquest
Sioned Williams MS has expressed “deep concern” over a further delay to the long awaited inquest into the Gleision Mining Disaster.
It has been nearly 13 years since the Gleision Colliery near Cilybebyll, Pontardawe was flooded following a routine blasting, resulting in the deaths of Charles Breslin, David Powell, Philip Hill, and Garry Jenkins.
After many years of campaigning by the families for an inquest, which Sioned Williams was involved in, the coroner finally ordered a full inquest in December 2022.
While the terms of the inquest were agreed in March 2023, a pre-inquest hearing arranged for September 2023 was cancelled at short notice, which prompted Ms Williams to write to South Wales Police & Crime Commissioner Alun Michael to express concerns that families had been “left in the dark”.
In a response to her letter from Detective Chief Superintendent Ceri Hughes, Ms Williams has learned that the coronial process had been “paused” due to information received by the police in 2023, but that the police were “unable to provide a timescale” for the inquest.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:
“The families of the four men who lost their lives in the Gleision Mining Disaster are aware that what matters is the truth, not the speed at which this progresses. Yet it’s hard not to agree that thirteen years is far too long a time to wait for answers about what happened to a loved one.
“These families have had to fight so hard to even get the right questions asked, let alone find the answers, and the inquest was to be a crucial part of that. For a year to have passed since the terms of the inquest were agreed is bringing additional distress to an already unbearably long wait for the truth.
“Since then, there have been no outward signs of progress, nor has there been contact from victims support. It’s for this reason that I asked PCC Alun Michael to step in and ensure the families get the update that they need and deserve.
“To only now learn of a further delay due to information received last year is simply not acceptable.”