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Friday 9 December 2016

Tragic Tyler (3) drowned here a week ago ... but repairs won't stop someone else being killed

Tyler Joyce in his halloween costume last year. Picture credit; INM
Tyler Joyce in his halloween costume last year. Picture credit; INM
Labour councillor Brendan Carr and the recently-repaired fence. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
28 Mar 2016: General view of scene where Sean Sweeney and his son died beside the Royal Canal and railway tracks. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Irish Rail's decision to repair a fence after a double drowning tragedy is "completely inadequate", a Dublin councillor has claimed.

Sean Sweeney (36) and his son Tyler (3) drowned in a ditch while using a shortcut through a broken Irish Rail fence.

The tragedy happened over the Easter weekend when the pair fell into a stream while taking a shortcut between Ashington Park and Finglas.

A slippery clay ledge beside a briar-covered ditch, double railway tracks and a passage over a lock on the Royal Canal at Pelletstown are all part of the shortcut.

"Irish Rail have once again fixed the hole in the fence, but just repairing the fence is completely inadequate," said Labour councillor Brendan Carr.

Broken

"It keeps getting broken by people taking the shortcut - and this fence will only be broken again."

Irish Rail admitted the tragedy happened just two weeks after the fence was fixed on March 12.

A high wall between Ashington Park and the railway line runs the length of the park, but there is a 20-foot-long gap in the wall filled by metal palisade fencing.

The fencing is frequently repaired and just as quickly damaged as people insist on using the shortcut, which can save them up to one hour in a walk between Ashington and Pelletstown and Finglas as there is no direct bus service.

"It is time for Irish Rail and Dublin City Council to meet up and come up with a permanent solution to the safety problem caused by this short cut," said the local councillor.

"The 20-foot-long gap in the existing wall should be filled with a high concrete wall instead of fencing," he said.

"It's Irish Rail's responsibility to protect the tracks and it's Dublin City Council's responsibility to make sure that children using the park and playground are protected.

"Children have been accessing the rail tracks from the park - and gardai have been warning about it for a long time."

A local 49-year-old mother-of-two told the Herald that people should not be breaking the fence and using the shortcut, but said a solution had to be found "after this terrible tragedy".

A spokesman for Irish Rail confirmed that rail staff who have fixed the fence in the past have been physically threatened by people.

"We use standard urban palisade fencing along the rail network. It is in everybody's interest that people do not take shortcuts across rail tracks as it is inherently dangerous to do so," he said.

Damaged

The rail spokesman added that there had been a continuous high wall along the boundary of the park provided by the city council.

Some years ago, after the wall was damaged, the council removed a section and Irish Rail put up the metal fence to prevent access to the rail tracks, he said.

"We would certainly be willing to meet the council about this problem. It's in everybody's interests," he said.

Floral tributes to the two victims remain at the base of a tree near the newly-repaired fence.

Easter eggs, teddy bears, and a dinosaur were left along with messages of sympathy for little Tyler and his dad.

Tyler's heartbroken mum, Pamela Joyce, recently spoke of her grief in a Herald interview.

She said that a walkway should be built over the stream where her son and Tyler's father drowned.

It is believed that they had been using the shortcut to visit Mr Sweeney's parents when tragedy struck.

Ms Joyce paid tribute to her little bundle of joy who she said was "always so happy" and "brought joy to everyone".

"It's the only thing that's getting me through. That he was so happy," Ms Joyce said.

"Why can't they make a little walkway. It's not going to cost them much.

"Even a bus from there (Ashington Park) to Finglas would stop people jumping the wall. If there was a bus he (Sean) could have just walked around the corner and got a bus.

"I know they fixed the fence, but young fellas cut it. That's because they don't want to walk all the way round. It would take an hour's walk or you can do it in 10 minutes by jumping the wall," Ms Joyce added.

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