The wife of an Irishman killed in a Boeing plane crash is pleading for six minutes of US President Joe Biden’s time while he is in Ireland.
Naoise Connolly Ryan’s husband Mick Ryan was among 157 people who died when a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft crashed in Ethiopia in March 2019.
Ms Connolly Ryan has now written an open letter to President Biden pleading for six minutes of his time to plead for his help in finding justice for her husband and all those who died in the crash.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ms Connolly Ryan described her husband.
“Mick was absolutely dedicated to the work he did but he was also a dedicated family man,” she said.
“He was also a dedicated husband and father. We had two young children together, they are now seven and four, and he just idolised the ground they walked on.
“He was the deputy chief engineer for the United Nations World Food Programme.
“He travelled to a lot of dangerous countries in the world. Places that were war-torn or had civil unrest; places where there had been an outbreak of Ebola – he built hospitals in these places.”
She said the six minutes she is asking for is “very significant for all the families”.
“That is the time it took for the Boeing Max plane, from take-off, before it crashed into the ground in [Ethiopian capital] Addis Ababa.
“So really it was only asking for six minutes of President Biden’s time. I felt that, within that timeframe, I could introduce myself and introduce Mick and the person he was, the difference he made in the world and discuss our ongoing battle for justice and ask for his support.”
Boeing 737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner was temporarily grounded worldwide after 346 people died in two separate crashes – one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia.
Flaws in the plane’s MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) were found to have led to the two crashes; however, Boeing avoided a trial by agreeing to pay out $2.5bn (€2.27bn).
Relatives of the victims have described a deal between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Boeing in 2021 to resolve a criminal conspiracy charge as a "sweetheart agreement" which violated their rights and allowed the company to avoid being held fully accountable.
They are fighting to have the deal reopened – which could potentially lead to legal actions against individuals.
Ms Connolly Ryan said the crashes were caused by “plain and simple corporate greed”.
“This was about Boeing trying to get a plane certified under an old design so they didn’t have to go through a whole new design process and spend billions of dollars on a new plane.
“In doing so, to get passed the certification, they had to pass certain tests.
“To pass these tests they needed a system called MCAS and they hid this from the FAA (US Federal Aviation Authority) which was the regulating body because if the FAA had known about it, they would have said, ‘Well OK, you need to provide more pilot training which would again cost more money and there would have been delays.
“So, they were defective, they were corrupt [and] they defrauded the Government.”
She said US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor has, “already come out in the strongest terms to say this is probably the deadliest case of corporate crime in the history of the US”.
The families are now seeking President Biden’s support to get a gagging order that was put in place early on in the legal process lifted.
“We are looking for accountability and we basically need President Biden’s help,” she said.
“This deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) actually gives immunity to the CEOs of Boeing so not only are we trying to fight this battle in court to get this DPA torn up and have our rights acknowledged, we also want to submit new evidence to the Department of Justice to prove that the CEOs were aware that these planes had problems before the crashes.”
She said she has no intention of giving up the fight.
“Boeing are corporate criminals,” she said. “They killed 346 people.
“If this was someone walking the streets, they wouldn’t get away with this.
“So why should the CEOs in Boeing be given immunity and why should they get away with it?
“The families are unified in our commitment to justice.”