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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Five young Irish people died in Perth this week - charity confirms

At least 11 Irish people died abroad in the last five days

Joe McDermott (left) and Gerry Bradley
Joe McDermott (left) and Gerry Bradley

David Kearns

Five young Irish people lost their lives in the Australian city of Perth this week, a charity that works with bereaved families to bring home the bodies of their loved ones has confirmed.

The figure brings the number of Irish people who died abroad to at least 11 in the last week, says the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

On Wednesday the tragic deaths of Joe McDermott (24), from County Tyrone, and Gerry Bradley (27), from County Derry were reported, brining the number of Irish dead in the city of Perth  to five.

It is understood the young men were on a cigarette break when the concrete slab fell from a nearby truck.

Elaine Ni Meachair and Alan Haughey
Elaine Ni Meachair and Alan Haughey
Elaine Ni Meachair and Alan Haughey

Their devastated led tributes to the two young men, with, Mr McDermott's parents, Tommy and Donna, and sister Lauren, said they were "so proud" of their son.

"We will always remember him as the bright and bubbly young man that he was.”

On Saturday Alan Haughey (28), from County Armagh, died when the car he was travelling in crashed in Kalgoorlie, Perth.

The 28-year-old was a passenger in the single-vehicle collision.


The Craigavon man had emigrated to Australia less than a month ago.

His brokenhearted girlfriend, Elaine Ni Meachair, posted a photograph of Mr Haughey on her Facebook page with a simple tribute: "The love of my life! Xxxx."

On Tuesday a young women from County Dublin who had contracted a virus while in Perth died after the life support machine keeping her alive was turned off.

It is understood she suffered a major organ failure as a result of the virus.

Also passing away in the last five days was a young man from County Meath who died after his family gave permission for his life support to be turned off.

He had suffered severe head injuries after he fell while working on scaffolding in Perth. 

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has been helping each of the families to bring the bodies of their loved ones back to Ireland.

“This has been a horrific week. It has been particularly tough,” said Colin Bell, who founded the Trust with his wife Eithne just over two years ago after his 26-year-old son Kevin was killed in New York in June 2013.

Kevin Bell, who was killed in New York in 2013
Kevin Bell, who was killed in New York in 2013

“The region really has been hit very hard in recent weeks,” he told the, saying that less than a month ago there were nine Irish deaths in the city of Perth.

"There was a man in his 50s who had come out to visit his children and had a heart attack.

"There was a young man whose car was hit by a train in Western Australia, and another who took his own life.

"Every death is a tragedy and each case is unique but we have a duty of care to do whatever we can to help get these bodies home to their loved ones." he added.

Besides those in Australia, Mr Bell told the Trust was working to bring home six other Irish people killed abroad during the week.

The deaths occurred in Alberta in Canada, New York, Jamaica, Denmark and England.

"This week alone we are faced with helping out with the repatriation of 11 Irish people.

"And it isn't just young people we've got to bring home.

"In Jamaica, we've a 70-year-old bar owner from Antrim who was shot dead."

Winston Samuels (71) was found in his car with bullet wounds to his head in the early hours of the morning. 

A popular businessman and musician on the showband scene, Mr Samuels had lived in Belfast and Antrim for decades before his death two weeks ago.

Winston Samuels (71) was found dead in his car with bullet wounds to his head
Winston Samuels (71) was found dead in his car with bullet wounds to his head

Mr Bell said the number of cases this week was “exceptional”, saying that the Trust usually "only dealt with two or three cases" a week.

"When we start up the Trust, we just never imagined there would be so many people in need of help.

"[But] we've seen a spike alright in the past few days but we're doing what we can to help."

The average cost of repatriating a body is about €5,900 said Mr Bell, but the further away the location, the more expensive it is.

To date, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust helped repatriate the remains of 130 people.

“I know what it's like to receive the news that a close family member has died. It's unimaginable," Mr Bell said.

"So now we do everything we can to help other families facing this awful situation.

"It helps them and it helps us deal with the loss of Kevin."

No one has ever been charged with the death of the 23-year-old, who was killed after he was hit by two vehicles in New York City at around 3:30am, on June 17 2013.

Those wishing to donate to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust can visit can do so here.

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