Tuesday 20 March 2018

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

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Tributes were paid before the annual Budget announcement to the 12 victims, and an unborn child, who lost their lives during a 'truly horrific' weekend.

Speaking before the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Joan Burton, party leaders Micheal Martin, Gerry Adams and Shane Ross TD extended their sympathies on behalf of the Government to the families of the bereaved.

Opening the fifteen-minute tributes, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the "birthdays uncelebrated and the children unborn" following the inferno at the Carrickmines halting site that wiped out two families, including five children.

"To us they have become the names of the dead but for those who knew them, loved them and mourn them - they are still possessors of a life lived and loved, of hopes and dreams, all the joys and sorrows," Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.

"The birthdays uncelebrated and children unborn, all the milestones of a life which will now never be reached.

"Standing at a location where so many people and children lost their lives to corrosive smoke and intense heart will remain with me forever," he continued.

A Garda looks at flowers laid in memory of those who died in the Carrickmines fire tragedy
A Garda looks at flowers laid in memory of those who died in the Carrickmines fire tragedy

"The silence of the people in attendance demonstrated their solidarity with the victims and the children.

"We wish to extend our prayers and our deepest sympathies. Our thoughts are also with the two children now so sadly orphaned and still in hospital in treatment for their injuries."

Mourners look at the floral tributes as they pay their respects at the scene in Glenamuck, Carrickmines
Mourners look at the floral tributes as they pay their respects at the scene in Glenamuck, Carrickmines

Speaking about the murder of Garda Tony Golden, the Taoiseach said: "Just as Irish people felt a justified joy at our international achievements abroad - the murder of a garda on duty became known, cruelly taken from this life while carrying out his public duty.

"Garda Tony Golden will be sadly missed by his family, his children - especially [his wife] Nicola and his beautiful children with whom we extend our sympathies.

Slain garda Tony Golden
Slain garda Tony Golden

"I hope too that young Siobhan Phillips makes a full recovery from her injuries in hospital," he added.

"To the Golden family and the extended Connors and Lynch families."

The scene of the shooting in Omeath, Co Louth
The scene of the shooting in Omeath, Co Louth

The Taoiseach added that the flag will fly at half-mast on all Government buildings for the funerals of the deceased.

Tanaiste Joan Burton described the weekend as a "truly horrific".

"This was a truly horrific weekend, a desperate weekend that affected not just one family or community, or many.

"All the more heartbreaking because it took place against against a weekend of a celebration that showed all that's best about Ireland.

"Twelve people lost their lives and one unborn child.

"We can't fathom the effect of their grief - we've seen photographs of five beautiful children, of a smiling father with his children, we see this images and our hearts are broken.

"A dead fire brought along a loss of life on a scale not witnessed in Ireland in many years."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he also wished to extend his sympathies and those of his colleagues to the families involved in the tragic incidents in Carrickmines, Co Dublin and Omeath, Co Louth.

"The relatives at Carrickmines are understandably devastated. People across Ireland are truly numbed by this appalling inferno," he told the Dail.

"One entire family, ten people and an unborn child lost their lives.

"We've seen the pictures showing how close they were to the joys of life from every newspaper."

Mr Martin described Garda Tony Golden as a "brave garda who always considered others first and foremost".

Gerry Adams spoke on behalf of the Sinn Féin party. He also mentioned the death of a young man, believed to be homeless, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"The deaths of 10 of our citizens, many of them children, another apparent death of a homeless man in the capital and the killing of Garda Golden and injured Siobhan... we offer our sincere condolences to the extended families of Thomas and Sylvia Connors, their children Jim, Christy and Mary, just six months, William Lynch, Tara Gilbert, their kids Kelsey and Jodie, their unborn child and their uncle Jimmy.

"Today is a moment for the Dail to stand in solidarity," he continued.

"But it is also time for solidarity to extend beyond rhetoric and into practical expressions."

Independent TD for Dublin South Shane Ross called for a minute's silence before the Budget 2016 announcement.

"The Tanaiste said it should have been a weekend of celebrations and it should have been, but it was a weekend of tragedy which overshadowed an opportunity for great celebration for the nation.

"I call for a minute's silence, silence is more than anything we can say today."

The TD, who formerly lived in the Carrickmines area, described the 'extraordinary' atmosphere at the halting site following the fire.

"There was an extraordinary atmosphere after 10 people had died, just silence.

"There was nothing they could say, people felt so utterly helpless in the situation, the locals, ambulance and emergency crews, everyone was utterly shocked".

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