'Unspeakable' tragedy shines light on inequality
Published 12/10/2015 | 02:30
Today marks the end of National Fire Safety Week and, tragically, the beginning of a period of national mourning for the 10 victims, including five small children, of a fire in Carrickmines, south Dublin.
The victims, including a young mother of two who had just shared her delight at her third pregnancy, had enjoyed a family gathering several hours ahead of the blaze in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Flames tore through a portacabin, claiming the lives of two couples, five of their children, and another male.
The blaze quickly spread to a second home and left the victims with little chance of survival.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who described the fire at the halting site at Glenamuck Road as an "unspeakable" tragedy, has said that flags will fly at half-mast on the days of the funerals of the victims.
That is an appropriate gesture to commemorate the scale and devastation of a tragedy that has served to remind us all of the fragility of life.
The fire also serves as a reminder of the living conditions endured by many members of the Travelling community. It also reminds us of the opposition, in many quarters, to Travellers being accommodated - whether on halting sites or in more permanent accommodation - in various towns and counties.
Gardaí are investigating the exact cause of the Carrickmines blaze.
And although early indications suggest that the fire was not a criminal act, there is no doubt that the blaze has highlighted inequities experienced by the Travelling community in areas including health, education and housing.