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Dad's heartbreak over Mari (5) too scared to jump from fire

TRAGIC little Mari Connolly climbed back into her burning home after becoming afraid to jump, her dad has revealed.

Richard Connolly (27) told how he tried to save Mari and her two sisters from their blazing house as their mother recovered in hospital from giving birth to twins.

He told today how his five-year-old daughter Mari climbed back into the house on Termon Road, Boyle, Co Roscommon, and tragically died in the inferno.

Gardai believe Sunday's fire was started maliciously and arrested a man in his 30s in the Sligo area.



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The man was being detained at Boyle Garda Station under the provisions of section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

Mr Connolly said he wanted people to know he did not jump from the house with two of his daughters but that he "tried to save the three of them".

He was looking after the girls, Lauren (8), Naomi (6) and Mari, while their mother Teresa Kane -- his former partner -- was in hospital giving birth to twins. At 2.30am on Monday, he awoke in his upstairs bedroom to find the home on fire and quickly got his three daughters out of bed.

Flames were reaching the top of the stairs and the rooms were filling with smoke. He took all three children to the back of the house and brought them onto the roof.

Mr Connolly planned to break his neighbour's window and help the girls through the opening.

But he lost his grip and fell 12ft to the ground, hitting his back on concrete steps below and injuring himself badly. Mr Connolly said he then "screamed at Lauren to jump" and land on top of him, which she did. Naomi did the same thing and he told Mari to jump as well.

"But I couldn't see her," he said.

He kept screaming for her to jump but she was nowhere in sight. Richard believes Mari was frightened and climbed back in through the open window.

He said he would never know why she didn't jump. "That will be with me forever," he said.

Mr Connolly's sister Orla Connolly has said her brother wantedpeople to know he did not leave Mari behind.

"He kept shouting 'Mari, jump, jump' but he thought Mari had come down the other side of the roof and fell," Ms Connolly said.

"Mari was found in the house, so she climbed back and went into the house.

"From what I've heard she was found under the window."

hnews@herald.ie