Thursday 18 January 2018

Irish girl who survived Manchester terror bombing that killed 22 people had 'guardian angel watching her'

Cork teen Kiara McKelvey survived the blast at the Manchester Arena last night
Cork teen Kiara McKelvey survived the blast at the Manchester Arena last night

Kathy Armstrong and Amy Molloy

An Irish teenager (15) who escaped the Manchester bombing uninjured had "a guardian angel looking down on her", her uncle has claimed.

Kiara McKelvey was enjoying US popstar Ariana Grande's concert at the Manchester Arena with a friend on Monday night when a suicide bomber let off an explosive, killing at least 22 people and injuring dozens of others.

The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack and a man (23) has been arrested in connection with the incident.

McKelvey, who only moved from Tower in Cork City to Manchester two years ago managed to flee to safety but her uncle Lloyd Creagh said that she is understandably shaken by what happened.

An injured woman is helped out of the Manchester Arena after last night’s blast at a gig by Ariana Grande, which left 19 dead
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena. Photo: Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena after the explosion.
Concert goers wait to be picked up at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester
A tweet from U.S. singer Ariana Grande is seen as she makes her first comment since a bombing at her concert in Manchester
Armed police man roadblocks outside the arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. Photo: PA
A police officer escorts people near the Manchester Arena
Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast
Police corden off an area close to the Box Office entrance to the Manchester Arena. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images
Emergency services at the scene. Photo: PA
A police officer talks to locals outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Armed police officers stand outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
An armoured police Land Rover drives away from the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
People sit by the side of the road next to a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena. Photo: Reuters
Still image taken from video shows a street scene near Manchester Arena after the blast
Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena

Mr Creagh, who is from Harbour View Road in Cork, told Independent.ie: "I was asleep when it happened but when I woke up I checked my phone and I saw the news updates.
"I knew Kiara had been at the concert so I straight away contacted my sister.

"She seemed to have been sitting on the other side of the stadium with her friend but there was a stampede their way, a fence was beside them so they hopped over it.

"Some of the doors were still locked because the concert was still on but they did manage to get out eventually.

"Her friend's mother was waiting to collect them outside to bring them home.

Lloyd's daughters with Kiara (L-R): Courtney Creagh, Kiara McKelvey and Casey Creagh
Lloyd's daughters with Kiara (L-R): Courtney Creagh, Kiara McKelvey and Casey Creagh

"She got out pretty quickly compared to other people - she was gone before all the ambulances, fire brigades and police arrived.

"It was a close-call but she didn't witness too much thankfully."

Read More: First victims of Manchester terror attack named, girl (8) among those dead
He also praised his niece for ensuring that her parents knew that she was safe.

He said: "Thank God she's clever enough that as soon as she got out she thought to call her mother, I believe the phone lines got blocked up a while later.

"Her father's phone was hopping from his own sister calling, she'd heard what had happened and was in hysterics not knowing if Kiara was okay.

"My sister Hilary (Kiara's mother) is a bit upset and shook, they all are, it's so close to home."

Kiara with her mother Hilary and brother Zak
Kiara with her mother Hilary and brother Zak

Speaking on the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's Red FM today, he spoke candidly about how lucky Kiara is to have survived the incident.

He said: "It's beyond belief that somebody could take a child's life...

"It's quit upsetting, you're running through what could have happened but it does restore your faith in humanity.

"My own mother only passed away a few years ago but I really believe she was Kiara's guardian angel and was looking down on her last night."

Read More: Security sources believe they know identity of man behind Manchester Arena attack - Theresa May

Mr Creagh said that his niece will need help and support to recover from her ordeal.

He said: "I think they might need to point her in the direction of a counsellor or some kind of after services, I'm not really sure.

"I didn't speak to her because she couldn't sleep last night so she only got to sleep in the early hours of this morning and I didn't want to disturb her but her mother is worried about her.

"It's not easy for her, she's only 15."

Kevin Hogan (28), originally from Co Kildare, has been living in Manchester six years and his family business is just up the road from the Manchester Arena.

He said there were "lots of distraught teenagers" after the horrific incident and described a very sombre atmosphere in the city today.

Kevin Hogan (bottom right) and friends
Kevin Hogan (bottom right) and friends

"Going to work this morning, we had to go and speak to the police and get permission to cross the road," he told Independent.ie.

"I was working with a guy yesterday and we were just saying how it was going to happen eventually, but we weren't expecting it to happen on our doorstep.

"One of my friends on my football team has said he doesn't think he wants to raise his child here any more as he feels it's not safe. He doesn't want his kid seeing what some of those young people saw last night."

Mr Hogan plays with St Peter's GAA club in Manchester and he said the club is going to train tonight as usual.

They wrote on their Twitter account: "We cannot let these terrorists cause the disruption they wish."

Kevin and his teammates have offered to donate blood to the victims and he is hoping that there will be no more imminent attacks.

"It is an isolated thing at the moment I hope but if it does continue I won't be staying here any longer."

Online Editors

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