Wednesday 22 January 2020

Family of mother-of-three who drowned in Carlingford Lough during hen party weekend call for safety measures

The tragic death of Ruth Maguire has prompted calls for a safety review at Carlingford pier
The tragic death of Ruth Maguire has prompted calls for a safety review at Carlingford pier

Elaine Keogh

The family of a woman who drowned after going into Carlingford Lough in Co Louth has called for a handrail or other safety measures to be installed at the harbour in the village.

The Coroner has said he will contact Louth County Council and ask them to examine the feasibility of putting in a guard rail.

The inquest into the death of Ruth Maguire (30) from Newcastle, Co Down heard she was part of a hen party of 30 that had travelled from Belfast and had booked to stay the weekend in the popular village in over St Patrick’s weekend.

The mother-of-three had spoken about going home to Newcastle when she left the premises the group was in at around 11.30pm.

She took a photograph outside a house across from the pier and posted it to Instagram at midnight. It is believed she fell off the pier a short time later.

Her partner James Griffin, who she was due to marry last August, discovered she had rung him on his work phone at six minutes past midnight when he switched it back on two weeks later.

Ruth Maguire and fiance James Griffin
Ruth Maguire and fiance James Griffin

The inquest heard that the alarm was raised the next day and extensive searches took place. 

The crew of the all-weather RNLI lifeboat at Newcastle was tasked to assist and the inquest heard a crew member spotted Ms Maguire’s body on Blockhouse Island in Carlingford Lough on the 18th March.

Her mother Geraldine Worthington said during the inquest, in Dundalk courthouse, that she would like to see something done about the harbour. 

She said it was totally unsafe and there was a big massive drop and it was wide open. She added money is being made by people coming from all over Ireland and drinking far more than they should be . 

In response to the Coroner Ronan Maguire, gardai confirmed there were no warning signs in the area.

Ms Worthington also said it is possible to drive onto the pier and piers like that are unsafe. 

The coffin of Carlingford drowning victim Ruth Maguire is carried by her partner James Griffin (left) and father Malachy, as it makes it way to Saint Vincent de Paul church, Ligoniel, Belfast ahead of her funeral.
The coffin of Carlingford drowning victim Ruth Maguire is carried by her partner James Griffin (left) and father Malachy, as it makes it way to Saint Vincent de Paul church, Ligoniel, Belfast ahead of her funeral.

She also said the ground is uneven and people can trip on it. 

She said she knew that "everything is about money but life is more important than money".

Mr Maguire said it was not known exactly what happened and he returned an Open verdict in keeping with the medical evidence that Ruth had drowned.

He said he will contact Louth County Council and ask them to examine the feasibility of putting in a guard rail at the harbour in Carlingford.

Speaking afterwards her mother welcomed the Coroner saying he would raise the matter with the county council. 

"We are very happy about that, we knew he could make recommendations and we are very glad he is prepared to do it and he sees a need to do it."

She said the family will also be approaching the county council over the issue. 

"It is an uneven surface, anybody could trip and fall in during the day, you don’t have to be drunk or anything else, it is a massive drop down, they need to put at least a rail up or even lights so someone knows they are leaving the road and going to a harbour," she added.

Following the inquest, Louth County Council offered their condolences to Ms Maguire's family.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Ruth Maguire. We note that the coroner intends to contact Louth County Council and we will consider the details in that correspondence carefully," the council said in a statement.

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