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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Tragic Mari's family were due to leave house in days

Luke Byrne and Tom Brady

Tragic five-year-old Mari Connolly and her family were due to be moved from the home where she lost her life in a house fire on Monday morning.

A close family friend revealed yesterday that the family was due to be temporarily relocated in a matter of days.

"The house was going to be renovated and they were going to be moving out of there in a few days anyway, to another house while that was being done," John Murphy said.

Gardai expect to receive the results today of a forensic examination of the house. The results are expected to confirm that the fire was started maliciously and officers will upgrade their current inquiries into a murder investigation.


But last night they were reluctant to speculate on the cause of the fire, which turned the house at Termon Road in Boyle, Co Roscommon, into an inferno within minutes, until they had studied the outcome of the forensic examination.

However, officers think that an accelerant may have been thrown into the house and this was responsible for the flames spreading quickly through the home and preventing little Mari Connolly from being rescued. Gardai confirmed yesterday that she died from smoke inhalation.

Because of the the danger of working in the the house -- due to extensive damage -- gardai could only begin to collect evidence yesterday morning. But officers revealed that they expected the tests to be completed this afternoon. Mari's body was taken away from the scene on Monday for examination. Post-mortem results yesterday confirmed that the junior infant student died of carbon monoxide poising.

Her father, Richard Connolly, is in the Mater Hospital in Dublin after he saved the lives of her sisters Naomi (6) and Lauren (8) by jumping out of the top window of the house. He sustained a broken back while the girls also suffered from smoke inhalation.

Gardai spent yesterday interviewing witnesses to the incident and are trying to piece together a clear picture of the moments leading up to the fire.

Teresa Kane, the mother of the children and Mr Connolly's former partner, gave birth to twin girls in Sligo General hospital on Saturday.

On Monday she laid a tribute to her daughter outside the burnt-out house. She was too distraught to speak at her home yesterday. The twins, who she named Ava and Layla, remained in the hospital.

A friend of Mr Connolly's father, who is also named Richard, told the Irish Independent that he was too upset to speak after visiting his son in the hospital.

But the woman, who answered the door to his house and identified herself as Kathleen, said that the family were devastated by the tragedy.

"It's very difficult for the mother," she said.

A steady line of locals came to the burnt-out remains of the home to add flowers, balloons, candles, teddy bears, colouring books and notes to the vigil started by Mari's mother on Monday.

Close family friend Mr Murphy said that, despite his pain, Mr Connolly's first thoughts were with his children.

"Young Mari used to always be with him and if you've ever seen a child that was as happy to be alive it was her, she was always smiling God bless her.

"Her grandmother's name was Mari also, she passed away a few years ago. A light has gone out in the town and it will never be re-lit."

Gardai at Boyle garda station have appealed for anyone with any information to contact them on 071-9662344

Irish Independent

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