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Friday 24 November 2017

Scaffolding collapse kills Irish worker in Australia

Paddy Clancy

AN Irishman who had travelled to work in Western Australia just six weeks ago has died in a tragic scaffolding collapse.

Shaun McBride (28) was carrying out maintenance work for the Rio Tinto mining group on Saturday at the East Intercourse Island jetty near Dampier when part of the scaffolding fell into the water beneath him.

It was the third family tragedy for his widowed mother Sylvia, from Burtonport, Co Donegal, after she lost two husbands in tragic circumstances.

Nobody saw Shaun fall. His work colleagues, alerted by the sound of breaking scaffolding, raised the alarm when they spotted his hard hat floating in the water.

A search was launched but initial attempts to locate the man were unsuccessful.

Some 12 hours later, police divers recovered the body from the ocean near Dampier Port.

Police Inspector David Picton-King, based at nearby Perth, said there were no witnesses to the fall.

All work ceased and the site was closed. A coroner's inquiry was launched yesterday. Both police and the Mines Department in Western Australia are investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto said the tragedy would be fully investigated by the company and in co-operation with the authorities. "I offer my sincere condolences to family, friends and team mates. We are ensuring that appropriate counselling services are available."

It was the third tragedy for Sylvia McBride, Shaun's mother.

Her first husband, Roland Faughnan, died in the Evelyn Marie fishing boat tragedy off Arranmore in 1975.

Her second husband, Joe Ban McBride, died suddenly 10 years ago when attending a wake on Arranmore Island.

Burtonport Parish Priest Fr Pat Ward said: "It's a huge blow for the area and for Shaun's family, who are very well-respected."

Shaun, who had two brothers and three sisters, returned home earlier this year from Australia to complete paperwork and he was delighted when he secured a four-year work permit to enable him to return.

He was due home in September to be best man at a wedding.

Irish Independent

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