Sunday 30 April 2017

Hundreds gather for candlelit vigil to remember victims of Carrickmines tragedy

The scene of the blockade of the proposed halting site in Rockville Drive, Carrickmines
The scene of the blockade of the proposed halting site in Rockville Drive, Carrickmines
HN VIGIL 11.jpg

Conor Feehan & Independent.ie Newsdesk

Hundreds of people gathered this evening to remember the ten victims of the Carrickmines tragedy.

Crowds gathered at the scene of last Saturday's fatal fire for a candlelit vigil, and floral and candle tributes were laid at the entrance to the halting site.

Actor Michael Collins, who played Johnny Connors in Glenroe, attended the vigil to pay his respects.

Meanwhile, residents of a South Dublin housing estate who have delayed the construction of a temporary halting site to house families left homeless after the tragic Carrickmines fire have agreed to re-convene at another meeting with the council tomorrow morning at 9am.

Actor Michael Collins, who played Johnny Connors in Glenroe, is pictured at The Glenamuck Roadd Candle Lit Vigil.
Actor Michael Collins, who played Johnny Connors in Glenroe, is pictured at The Glenamuck Roadd Candle Lit Vigil.
Crowds gather at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil to pay tribute to the victims.
Candle tribtues to the Carrickmines fire victims.
Candle tributes to the ten victims of the Carrickmines tragedy.
Crowds gather at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil to pay tribute to the victims.
The Glenamuck Rd Candle Lit Vigil last night.
People gather to pay tribute to the ten victims of the Carrickmines fire at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil.
Tommy Stokes (6) and Elizabeth Wall (6) pictured at the Glenamuck road candle lit vigil.
A candle tribute to the ten victims of the Carrickmines fire tragedy.
People gather to pay tribute to the ten victims of the Carrickmines fire at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil.

Yesterday local people protested at a proposed temporary site offered to the survivors of the Carrickmines blaze which killed 10 members of the travelling community.

The council issued a letter to residents yesterday informing them that work was to begin on the plot of land immediately to accommodate the survivors of Saturday’s fire which claimed 10 lives.

It stated that the accommodation is being provided on a temporary basis, until the construction of a permanent site is completed. That is due to take eight months.

Around 15 residents of the estate yesterday blocked the entrance to the plot of land, preventing a JCB from starting the work.

A peaceful stand-off ensued with residents refusing to move their vehicles which were obstructing the entrance.

Labour councillor for the Glencullen-Sandyford Ward, Lettie McCarthy, said she hoped the stand-off could be resolved.

“There are a lot of comments going around that are neither fair nor true on both sides, so I would appeal to people of the wider area to show a bit of common sense and calm,” she said.

“We don’t want anyone to feel they are being ostracised and I think there is a danger of that happening,” she explained.

“We need to make sure the residents are happy with the outcome and that the family are happy with the accommodation they will have for the next couple of months.

“We need to stop trying to put one group against the other.”

Cllr McCarthy said the relationship between the residents of Rockville and the council had broken down a long time ago, and that the council don’t have the trust of the residents.

“That is very sad, but that is the reality,” she said.

“This has accumulated over a number of years – it has not just happened last night or today.”

“When the residents here woke up on Saturday morning to the news (of the fire) they grieved with that family.

“Don’t try and say they are anti-traveller, as that is not productive,” Cllr McCarthy added.

Earlier, members of the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council this morning met with a number of residents from Rockville Drive to discuss concerns raised in relation to the proposed emergency site.

During the meeting the Council reiterated that the site in question is classified as an emergency site arising specifically from the tragedy and a commitment was given that it will be decommissioned within six months on completion of the the works at the new permanent designated site.

It is believed that the council could force the issue through the courts if agreement is not reached.

Read more: Dáil pays tribute to victims of 'truly horrific' weekend before Budget 2016 announcement

In an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, the Taoiseach said there was a need for a “deep sensitivity here”.

“Obviously the council is anxious to accommodate them but consultation and conversation with local communities is very important.”

The Taoiseach also said he had been deeply affected by the tragedy which claimed 10 lives on Saturday morning.

“I went out to Carrickmines on Sunday and the silence was so powerful.”

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Alan Kelly said he was “incredibly disappointed and disheartened” at the residents’ reaction.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I thought as a society we had moved on from these sort of issues and thought we would respond much better.

“The site blockaded is a temporary site, not even a permanent site. To be frank I would like the people behaving that way to reflect on that. The nation is heartbroken about what happened last weekend. I think it says an awful lot about Irish society and in a very disturbing way.

Read more: Carrickmines tragedy: Temporary site for survivors blocked by residents

“To think that people have blocked the entry, given what that family has gone through, is very disturbing and shameful.”

Consultations and dialogue are ongoing with the residents.

Tara Gilbert (27), who was four months’ pregnant, died in Saturday’s blaze along with her partner Willie Lynch (25) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).

Willie’s sister Sylvia Connors (25) also perished along with her husband Thomas (27) and three of their children – Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary. Jimmy Lynch (39), Willie and Sylvia’s brother, was the 10th victim. One survivor currently remains in hospital.

Tom Connors (4) is in a serious but stable condition in Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Family members have been producing DNA samples to authorities to assist in the formal identification of the deceased.

The funerals of those who lost their lives are expected to take place next week in Bray, Co Wicklow, and Co Wexford.

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