Tuesday 16 January 2018

Marine minister Simon Coveney describes tragic loss of family in Buncrana as 'heartbreaking'

Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney Photo: Damien Eagers
Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney Photo: Damien Eagers

Marine minister Simon Coveney has described the tragic loss of a family in Buncrana as "heartbreaking".

Two adults and three children died and a four-month-old infant was rescued after their car plunged into the sea off a pier in Co Donegal last night.

Sean McGrotty (46), his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels (57) and her 15-year-old daughter Jodie Lee, all died after the Audi vehicle slid off the pier.

Baby Rionaghac-Ann, who is only four months old, survived the tragedy and is in a stable condition.

The horrific incident happened in Buncrana around 7.15pm at a popular Wild Atlantic Way stop-off point for tourists wanting to watch the sun set over Lough Swilly.

Speaking at a Defence Forces event in Dundalk, Mr Coveney said:

"It's just heartbreaking. I was listening to the description of what happened on the radio when I was in the car earlier, when I was on the way to Dundalk. This is just so, so sad. I don't quite know how it happened. I think people are still trying to get their heads around how it happened. My heart goes out to the families involved and to the friends of the people involved."

"Also, I want to thank the rescue services for the work they have done and have been doing. We shouldn't forget that they are volunteers and of course the heroic effort to save the child, a baby, which again needs recognition."

"I think our focus needs to be on the people who are directly affected now - whether they be volunteers or they be people who have lost loved ones. I think that's what everybody should be focused on."

Mr Coveney said he would await the results of an investigation into the tragedy.

"To be honest, what I know about that tragedy is what I've heard in the media. Of course, we'll find out an awful lot more in the coming days but when you have the extent of tragedy that we've seen, I think the focus needs to be on supporting people who are grieving right now. In time, we'll find out exactly what happened and hopefully learn some lessons from it. But I think for today and for the immediate future, we should focus on trying to support people."

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