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Saturday 24 March 2018

Kenny praises Buncrana hero as Dáil reflects on 'numbing grief' in community

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has praised the courage of Davitt Walsh who saved the life of baby Rionaghac-Ann, saying the Buncrana tragedy puts things "into perspective and context".

Leaders of all the main parties paid tribute to the McGrotty and Daniels family yesterday as the Dáil stood for a minute's silence.

Mr Kenny said: "We all know in our own lives the numbing grief that comes from the loss of a loved one.

"In these circumstances, however, this is of particular and deepest grief that the tranquillity and beauty of a sunny spring Sunday had been shattered by this tragedy."

The acting Taoiseach said he would forever recall the words of Francis Crawford who witnessed what unfolded and described the devastating scenes as the family car became submerged.

"I admire the courage of Davitt Walsh, who rescued and saved the life of little Rionaghac-Ann. When one tries to consider the horrendous impact of what was happening as that vehicle slid towards the water and the father, handing his own baby to the rescuer, saying, 'Save our baby', this puts things into perspective and in context," Mr Kenny said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the five lost lives as "an unspeakable tragedy".

"I think the nation is truly shocked at the scale of this tragedy and its impact on the wider community in Donegal and Derry," he said.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said Donegal was "no stranger to very serious accidents involving loss of life in recent years".

"It is sad that a pleasant spring day turned into such a tragedy for this family and their extended family and friends in Derry.

"Anybody who heard Mr Walsh... and his partner talking about what happened could not but have been moved by the spectacle of both the tragedy and the courage he and his partner showed in rescuing that baby, and the forlornness of the farewell by the father of the family as he returned to rescue his children," the Labour Party leader said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams paid tribute to the emergency services and those who intervened to try and save the family. On behalf of the Independent Alliance, Shane Ross said the number of deaths was "utterly devastating for the people of the area and the nation".

Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats said the communities in Derry and Donegal had "been traumatised" and were united in grief.

Irish Independent

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