Saturday 21 July 2018

No prosecutions over Carrickmines fire that claimed lives of 10 people - DPP

  • DPP decided no prosecution will be brought against county council
  • Fatal fire claimed 10 lives, including five children and a pregnant woman
  • Inquest into deaths can now resume
The DPP has decided no prosecution will be brought against a county council in connection with the fatal fire that claimed 10 lives three years ago
The DPP has decided no prosecution will be brought against a county council in connection with the fatal fire that claimed 10 lives three years ago
Scene of the fire in which 10 people lost their lives
The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines.

Shane Phelan and Ian Begley

The DPP has decided no prosecution will be brought against a county council in connection with the fatal fire that claimed 10 lives three years ago.

Gardaí investigated if there were any criminal health and safety breaches by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in relation to the placement of units at a temporary halting site at Glenamuck, Carrickmines, Co Dublin.

Central to the probe was how close together the units were.

Five adults and five children died following the fire at the halting site in the early hours of October 10, 2015.

Fire victims Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4)
Fire victims Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4)

It emerged last year that gardaí had completed an investigation and sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Irish Independent understands the DPP recently decided no charges are to be brought.

KILLED: Willie Lynch, his partner Tara Gilbert and their daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) perished in the blaze
KILLED: Willie Lynch, his partner Tara Gilbert and their daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) perished in the blaze

The council has declined to comment.

The decision means an inquest into the deaths can now resume, having been adjourned by coroner Dr Myra Cullinane.

Tara Gilbert and Willie Lynch
Tara Gilbert and Willie Lynch

The council is being represented by solicitor Michael Staines.

It has previously acknowledged units at the halting site were moved during upgrade works in March and April 2015, six months prior to the fire.

Read more: Families are still living in 'unsafe' homes

Read more: 'We can't move on until this is over' - Carrickmines fire families' anguish as inquest into tragedy delayed

Thomas Connors and his wife Sylvia
Thomas Connors and his wife Sylvia

Relatives of those who died have said the new configuration left some units too close together.

The fire is believed to have started in one unit and quickly spread to another.

The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines.
The scene of the tragic fire at Glenmaluck Road, Carrickmines.

The fire victims were Thomas Connors (27) his wife Sylvia (30), and their children Jim (5), Christy (3) and six-month-old Mary; Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant, and daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4); and 39-year-old Jimmy Lynch, a brother of Willie.

The ten victims were residents of the halting site.

The remains are taken from the church at the funeral of Thomas, Sylvia, Christopher, Jim and baby Mary Connors, who died in the Carrickmines temporary halting site fire
The remains are taken from the church at the funeral of Thomas, Sylvia, Christopher, Jim and baby Mary Connors, who died in the Carrickmines temporary halting site fire

They died due to carbon monoxide poisoning, the adjourned inquest previously heard.

The five adults and four of the children were identified using DNA evidence with the assistance of Dr Alan Magee.

The ten post-mortem examinations were carried out by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy and Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster. The cause of death was acute carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation as the result of a fire.

People gather to pay tribute to the ten victims of the Carrickmines fire at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil.
People gather to pay tribute to the ten victims of the Carrickmines fire at the Glenamuck Road Candle Lit Vigil.

The deaths raised serious questions over how Traveller families were forced to live in cramped and unsafe conditions.

Relatives of the 10 victims said in March that they are angered at the delays in processing the case and holding the inquests into their deaths.

Speaking after the adjournment at the time, relative Sindy Lynch said she had expected the case to be delayed by a few weeks, but did not think it would be six months.

"We want to be able to move on with our lives, but we can't until this is over," she said.

"We want to see justice for our families."

The council provided group housing for the four surviving households that were on the site, adjacent to where they had lived, on Glenamuck Road.

The families pay rent to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as social housing tenants.

Jim O'Brien, of the Bray Travellers Community Development Group, who has spoken on behalf of the families, said previously that gardaí and the coroner had been very supportive.

"It is a nightmare for the three families.

"We know it is a big file and it needs to be fully investigated, but what all three families are going through must be considered," he said.

The Carrickmines tragedy unfolded at the site at around 4am on October 10, 2015.

Flames tore through a portacabin, claiming the lives of two couples, five of their children, and another male.

The blaze quickly spread to a second home and left the victims with little chance of survival.

Those who died were from three generations of an extended Connors family, who are members of the Traveller community.

Nine died on the site - and one later on hospital.

Assistant chief fire officer with Dublin Fire Brigade, Denis Keeley, described the Carrickmines fire as "the extreme end of anything I've dealt with in the past".

Those who died were honoured at vigils throughout the country.

A letter from Pope Francis was read at their funeral, which was attended by then Tánaiste, Joan Burton, and representatives of the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins.

Relatives of those who died later met Pope Francis in the Vatican.

In March 2017, a devastating fire in Clondalkin claimed the lives of four members of the Travelling community, several of whom were relatives of the Carrickmines victims.

The victims included a pregnant woman and three young children.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News