Friday 30 September 2016

Tight-knit community devastated after girl (8) killed in farm accident

Cathal McMahon and Ciara Treacy

Published 02/08/2016 | 21:36

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An 8-year-old girl has died after a farming accident in Co Mayo on Tuesday evening.

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Gardaí have confirmed that the young girl was fatally injured in an incident involving a tractor on a farm near Islandeady, Co Mayo at around 5pm.

The victim was named today as Jessica Needham (8) from Lismolin, Islandeady, County Mayo.

A garda spokesman said the accident happened at  5pm yesterday involving a tractor on the farm.

 She was taken to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. She was pronounced dead at 5.40pm.

Local people said today the whole community was shocked and deeply saddened by the tragedy and their hearts go out to her parents Patrick and Michelle.

A close family said: "The young girl was always out and about and was very active.

"Her family are very well respected  in the community and have lived here all their lives."

So far this year seven people have lost their lives on Irish farms, while the figures show that 18 deaths occurred last year.

A spokesman for the HSA confirmed that they have been informed by gardaí of the tragic accident: "We have been notified about that. We will be sending inspectors tomorrow.

"This is obviously a very sensitive issue and it will be treated accordingly."

Vice Chairman of Mayo County Council Christy Hyland said he was shocked to learn of the death: "As a councillor my sympathies go out to the family and the relatives of this child. It is a terrible tragedy."

Cllr Hyland (Ind) explained that it was the second tragedy to hit the area after sheep farmer Christy Gallagher (51)  fell to his death from Mweelrea mountain on Sunday.

The local politician explained that he was at Mr Gallagher's funeral on Tuesday evening when news filtered through of the child's death.

"This is our second tragedy in a few days and the whole community is grief stricken. We were at Christy Gallagher's funeral when we learned about this.

"Christy was out herding sheep on Mweelrea Mountain on Sunday when he slipped and fell 200ft to his death."

Councillor Frank Durcan (Ind) said this evening's tragedy took place "only a few miles from the Taoiseach’s home".

“It’s very tragic for any family to have an accident like that.

“There have been a lot of farm deaths involving children and the Government has learned nothing from it.

Councillor Cyril Burke (FG) said: “It’s a very sad situation for the family to lose their eight-year-old while working on the family farm. For the rest of their lives it will be very difficult for them.

“You can never be too careful with children on a farm.”

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