herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Distraught community hold candlelight vigil for Carrickmines fire victims

Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh
Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh

A candlelit vigil for the victims of the Carrickmines fire tragedy was held in Dublin last night.

Former neighbours of the Connors family in Ballyogan Crescent lit 10 candles, representing each of the victims, on a makeshift outdoor altar in the Carrickmines housing estate.

The Connors family lived in Ballyogan Crescent for several years before eventually moving to the halting site on Glenamuck Road.

"The whole community is in shock since the tragedy," said family friend and former neighbour Yvonne Parker (44), who organised the vigil ceremony.

"We're praying that the family will have peace."

Dozens of local parents and children took part in the vigil to honour the memory of the five children and five adults who lost their lives in the Saturday morning fire.

"The Connors family were well-known and well-liked. We are devastated by this horrendous tragedy," said Ms Parker.

A statue of the Virgin Mary was the focal point of the vigil, in deference to the Connors family's known devotion to Mary.

A large statue of the Virgin Mary stands at the entrance to the halting site, which has been surrounded by a growing number of floral bouquets.

Local mother-of-three Valerie Hall (49) said the community had been devastated.

"I'm heartbroken and feel terrible for the grandparents, Jim and Josie. I've come tonight to pay my respects," she said.

"It makes me feel grateful that I can have my children safe at home every night."

Mother-of-three Mandy Molloy (51) said she was glad to have the chance to come together with the community to pray for the victims.

"It is heartbreaking that a family can be wiped out like that," she said.

Councillor Chris Curran participated in the vigil and said the community were seeking to respond to the tragedy in their own special way.

He said local primary schools had organised counselling for their pupils, who arrived for class in the morning to find some of their classmates "were no longer present".

The Sinn Fein councillor said the council would be able to invoke emergency powers to fast-track alternative accommodation for the extended Connors family, as they may seek to move away from the site where the tragedy happened.

The Southside Travellers Action Group would be seeking the provision of more permanent infrastructure at any new site for the family, including concrete toilet facilities rather than portacabin-type facilities, Mr Curran said.

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