herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

'Appalling, disgusting' vandals destroy fire tragedy memorial

The vandalised memorial near the newly renovated halting site at Carrickmines. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The vandalised memorial near the newly renovated halting site at Carrickmines. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

A memorial erected in memory of the 11 Carrickmines fire victims has been destroyed in an "appalling" act of vandalism.

Local groups have expressed their "disgust" over the destruction of a statue commemorating the people killed in the 2015 tragedy.

What was once a fitting memorial to those who perished in the blaze has now been left in ruins.

The statue of the Virgin Mary, erected just metres away from where the fire occurred, was recently found broken in several places.

Damage

However, the granite memorial stone underneath the religious effigy was spared from any damage.

The apparent act of vandalism was noticed by Labour Party Cllr Peter O'Brien, who was left stunned.

"I'm just lost for words - it's appalling. It's disrespectful not just for the residents, but for the victims of the fire.

"In the aftermath of the fire, thousands of people paid their respects at this site. To go from that to this is just disgusting," he added.

Sinn Fein Cllr Chris Curran believes the vast majority of the community will condemn what happened.

"It's absolutely horrendous," he said.

Jim O'Brien, of the Bray Travellers' Community Development Group, told the Herald that it should be treated as a criminal offence, if proven deliberate.

"If it was vandalised, then to me that's a criminal offence," he said.

A spokesperson from the council said it only became aware of the damage caused yesterday.

This news comes just days after the survivors of the Carrickmines disaster moved back to the same site where their loved ones had died.

The new state-of-the-art halting site, complete with fire walls, was provided by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

However, Kathleen McDonagh, a sister of one of the victims, said the council should have allocated the permanent structures to the residents years ago.

"I don't care that they've built these houses, they can have them back if they want because they are no good to us now," she said yesterday.

"What good is a house to you when 11 members of your family are gone?

"If they gave me a house and it was full of gold, it would be no good to me, because it is not bringing my family back.

"They gave the houses too late," she said.

Five adults and five children perished in the blaze, which took place in October, 2015.

Willie Lynch (25) and Tara Gilbert (27) died alongside their daughters Kelsey and Jodie. Tara was four months pregnant.

Thomas Connors (27) and his wife Sylvia (25) and their children Jim (5), Christy (2) and six-month-old Mary also lost their lives in the fire.

A brother of Willie Lynch, Jimmy (39), also died.

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