Monday 20 February 2017

'Carrickmines' deaths should be a turning point for Travellers'

Laura Larkin

Published 11/10/2016 | 02:30

Harry Gilbert grieves for his daughter Tara, who died in the Carrickmines fire a year ago. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Harry Gilbert grieves for his daughter Tara, who died in the Carrickmines fire a year ago. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A commemoration marking the first anniversary of the Carrickmines fire heard the loss of the 10 lives should be a turning point for Ireland and the Traveller community.

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Dozens of people turned out to remember the five children and five adults, including a pregnant woman, who died when a fire broke out on their halting site in south Dublin on October 10 last year.

Thomas Connors sprinkles holy water at the shrine to the five adults, five children and one unborn baby who died in the blaze. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Thomas Connors sprinkles holy water at the shrine to the five adults, five children and one unborn baby who died in the blaze. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The victims included Thomas Connors (27), his wife Sylvia (30) and their three children, Jim (5), Christy (3), and six-month-old baby Mary. Sylvia's brother Willy Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant, her daughter Jodie Gilbert (9), and their daughter Kelsey (4) also died in the fire. Willy and Sylvia's brother Jimmy Lynch (39) was also killed.

The Lynch, Connors and Gilbert families were joined by friends and Housing Minister Simon Coveney at two masses yesterday; the first was held in Sandyford and the second in Bray.

"If 'when everything happened' proved to be a watershed moment, so as to bring some meaning to the tragic and seemingly senseless loss, for the tragedy's survivor children especially to come to know their family's deaths had made a difference as a turning point for our country, and particularly for the Travellers of our country," Fr Derek Farrell said.

Read more: Year after Carrickmines tragedy, 'Travellers are still marginalised'

The co-operation which emerged in the aftermath of the tragedy was a positive step but more needed to be done, the parish priest of the Parish of the Travelling People added.

"This close cooperation, consultation, collaboration is going in the right direction but more is needed. A generous and committed response is needed from all quarters and at all levels - personal, community, Church, and State.

"The building of a mutual relationship... is possible and with goodwill and determination, within our grasp," he said.

A message of thanks read out on behalf of the Lynch family heard that the victims went to bed hours before the fire "full of expectations". A blessing was also carried out at the plaque at the site on the Glenamuck Road.

Mourners at the memorial mass in Ballally, Co Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Mourners at the memorial mass in Ballally, Co Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Irish Independent

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