Monday 23 October 2017

Families vow to keep children inside after little James's death

James Casey-Butler: drowned in river while out playing
James Casey-Butler: drowned in river while out playing
Neighbours Shirley Shanahan and her daughter Clodagh leave flowers for James close to the Owenacurra River
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

PARENTS at an estate where a seven-year-old boy drowned say they will not let their children play outside until river bank fencing is fixed.

James Casey-Butler was playing with friends at Tir Cluain estate in Midleton, Co Cork, when he went through a broken fence and slipped into the river.

The Owenacurra River is normally shallow, but on Saturday it was overflowing.

Nine-year-old Oisin Shanahan raced across a green area shouting for help. His father John immediately rang the emergency services while his brother-in-law jumped into his car and raced down stream.

But James lost his battle for life in Our Lady's Children Hospital in Dublin on Sunday, with his family by his bedside.

The Tir Cluain estate is a large estate on the banks of the picturesque Owenacurra River – built by Flemings Construction, it is now in NAMA.

Yesterday, grieving children accompanied their parents to the site where little James's body was pulled from the river.

Locals pointed to the little gap where James walked to his death – the grief overtaken by anger that there was no fencing to stop the tragedy.

John Shanahan said that their children will never be allowed play outside unsupervised again.

"A proper child-proof barrier needs to be erected. It would be a small price to pay," he said.

"Our biggest fear is the fear of another life being lost," he added.

Andrea O'Sullivan, a mum of two young children, said: "I am shocked, sick and mad about what happened.

"We're angry at the fact that it is so easily accessible to kids.

"We want whoever is in charge of this estate to come and meet us and tell us about how they are going to stop this happening again.

"We are not asking them to admit liability, all we want is them to do something that makes sure that this never happens again."

Flemings was unavailable for comment yesterday, while NAMA and Cork County Council refused to comment.

But the court-appointed receiver of Fleming Construction released a short statement last night.

Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon said: "The receiver of Fleming Construction Company is looking into all aspects of this tragedy and are fully engaged with all authorities."

Bishop of Cloyne William Crean said he was deeply saddened to learn of the boy's death.

"My heart goes out to all concerned: to the parents of James, to his extended family, relatives, friends and to the community," he said.

Meanwhile, the HSE denied reports that it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

"The HSE National Ambulance Service Control Centre was notified of the emergency call at 6.40pm. Ambulance control processed the 999 emergency call and the nearest available emergency ambulance (which was leaving CUH at the time) was allocated to the call.

"This ambulance and crew arrived at the scene in Midleton at 6.59pm. Total response time of 19 minutes."

It said that an off-duty paramedic was also on the scene within seven minutes.

It is expected that the body of James will be released to his family later today.

Irish Independent

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