Monday 23 October 2017

National audit of halting sites ordered after tragic blaze claimed lives of five adults and five children

Mourners look at the floral tributes as they pay their respects at the scene in Glenamuck, Carrickmines
Mourners look at the floral tributes as they pay their respects at the scene in Glenamuck, Carrickmines
Gretta McLoughlin, from Ballyfermot in Dublin, signs a book of condolence at the Mansion House

Jane O'Faherty, Robin Schiller and Ken Foy

A national audit of halting sites is to be carried out following the deaths of 10 people in Carrickmines.

The Department of the Environment confirmed last night that it will write to local authorities today telling them to start checking sites in their areas to make sure they are up to code.

It is understood that checks will be carried out to make sure structures are safe and that there is no loose wiring or other potential fire hazards.

Traveller families will also be given fire safety advice and instructions on how to use fire extinguishers.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh yesterday asked Dublin City Council to begin such a safety audit as she opened a book of condolence at the Mansion House for the five adults and five children who perished in the blaze at a halting site on the Glenamuck Rock at the weekend.

"I've called on the City Manager to carry out the audit of all our own halting sites, because what we need to learn from this is that this can never happen again and we need to make sure that our own halting sites are actually safe," she said.

Crowds were already gathering outside the Mansion House before the opening of the book of condolence yesterday morning.

"There's been a huge outpouring of grief and solidarity with the Travelling community following on from the tragic deaths, and this is just an example of it, when you see the queue forming here to sign the book of condolence," said Ms Ní Dhálaigh.

The Lord Mayor was joined by President Michael D Higgins, who said that he and his wife Sabina wanted to express their sympathy on their own behalf and on behalf of the Irish people.

Mr Higgins called the many books of condolence that were now open across the country "an opportunity for the general public to express their sympathy and solidarity with the families".

"I think the whole country is deeply moved by the significance of the tragedy and the grief that must have fallen on that family," he said.

"The queue outside makes its own expression of the anxiety of the public to express their sympathy with the families," he added.

"Our thoughts must be with those injured members of the family who are in Crumlin Hospital."

The tragedy happened at the site on the Glenamuck Road, in Carrickmines, at about 4am on Saturday.

Flames tore through a prefab and the blaze quickly spread to a second home, leaving the victims with little chance of survival.

Tara Gilbert (27), who was four months' pregnant, died along with her partner Willie Lynch (25) and their children Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4).

Willie's sister Sylvia Connors (25) also perished along with her husband Thomas (27) and three of their children - Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary.

The 10th victim was Jimmy Lynch (39) - Willie and Sylvia's brother.

Last night, the Southside Travellers Action Group confirmed that 14-year-old John Connors, one of the two children who had been hospitalised following the disaster, had been released from hospital.

Tom Connors (4) is continuing his recovery in hospital, a spokesperson for the group said. Both Tom and his brother Michael (5) have been orphaned following the weekend's tragedy.

Floral tributes continued to be left for the victims at the scene of the tragedy, with locals as well as extended family members paying their respects.

"Our tears are falling and our hearts are breaking for you as you face this unspeakable loss," read one of the hundreds of messages left outside the Glenamuck Road halting site.

Another message simply stated: "There are no words".

The Society of St Vincent de Paul has also opened a bank account for donations from members of the public for the families affected.

Gardaí have not established what caused the devastating fire, however, they are still confident that the inferno was not started deliberately.

Meanwhile, the Society of St Vincent de Paul has said that the public can contribute electronically or by post to a fund to help the families affected by the Carrickmines fire disaster.

Online donations can be made by visiting

Cheques, made payable to 'SVP Carrickmines Tragedy', can be sent to Finance Dept, SVP East Region, 91-92 Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1.

Also payments can be made directly to the SVP fund's AIB account:

Account number: 16005289N
Sorting Code:  93-31-20
IBAN:  IE38AIBK93312016005289

Irish Independent

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