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Widow hits out at Cameron's letter on site safety

AN Irish woman, whose husband was killed in a construction accident in London just 13 weeks after they were married, has reacted with anger to a letter sent to her by David Cameron.

Jennifer Deeney had written to the prime minister seeking clarification after he spoke of the 'health and safety monster' at an event in January and seemed to imply that cutting back on safety regulation could benefit British business.

But Mrs Deeney, originally from Straide in Mayo, described Mr Cameron's response as "irritating" and "condescending".

She said: "I wanted David Cameron to explain what he intended to do to reduce the number of deaths at work. But it seems he doesn't fully understand the issue. The main thing that saves lives at work is taking individual responsibility -- but if the prime minister can't even do that then how does he expect the workers to do so?"

In 2004, just over three months after their wedding, Mrs Deeney's husband Kieron, from Rathmullan, in Donegal, fell through a rotten board which was covering a disused lift shaft and died instantly when he hit the floor 30 feet below on a site in Canary Wharf.

Risks

In his letter, Mr Cameron pledged his government would "allow employers to make sensible and proportionate decisions about managing workplace risks."

But Mrs Deeney (37) fears Mr Cameron's words will be used by some employers to justify making cuts in safety practices. Since her husband's death, Mrs Deeney has worked to educate workers about the importance of health and safety.

In recent months she has been asked to speak to construction workers at the Olympic site in East London and she herself will carry the Olympic torch as it makes its way to the Stratford stadium on Monday, July 23.

"These will be the first modern Olympic Games where no lives will have been lost in the construction of the stadiums. That's a fact that should show David Cameron the importance of health and safety," said Mrs Deeney.

Irish Independent