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Thursday 23 January 2020

Family of tragic mum who drowned on hen night want safety rail for town harbour

Mother-of-three Ruth Maguire, whose body was found on Blockhouse Island in Carlingford Lough after she drowned
Mother-of-three Ruth Maguire, whose body was found on Blockhouse Island in Carlingford Lough after she drowned

The family of a woman who drowned in Carlingford Lough on a weekend have called for a handrail to be installed at the harbour in the town.

A coroner said he will contact Louth County Council and ask it to examine the feasibility of putting in the safety measure.

The inquest into the death of Ruth Maguire (30), of Newcastle, Co Down, heard she was one of a hen party of 30 that had travelled from Belfast to stay in Carlingford over St Patrick's weekend.

The mother-of-three had spoken about going home when she left the premises the group were in at around 11.30pm on March 16.

She took a photo outside a house across from the pier and posted it to Instagram at midnight. It is believed she fell off the pier a short time later.

Alarm

Her partner, James Griffin, who she was due to marry last August, discovered she had rung him on his work phone at 12.06am when he switched it back on two weeks later.

The inquest heard the alarm was raised on March 17 and searches were carried out.

A crew member from the all-weather RNLI lifeboat spotted Ms Maguire's body on Blockhouse Island the following day.

Her mother, Geraldine Worthington, told the inquest at Dundalk courthouse that she would like to see something done about the harbour.

She said it was "totally unsafe" and there was a "massive drop".

A search party looking for mother-of-three Ruth Maguire
A search party looking for mother-of-three Ruth Maguire

Ms Worthington said money is generated by people coming from all over Ireland and drinking far more than they should.

She said the family had heard of a man who had been on a stag party and fallen into the lough and was rescued by his friends.

In response to a question from coroner Ronan Maguire, gardai said there were no warning signs.

Ms Worthington also said it is possible to drive on to the pier, and piers like that are unsafe. She also said the ground is uneven and people can trip on it.

She said she knew "every- thing is about money, but life is more important than money".

Coroner Mr Maguire returned an open verdict in keeping with the medical evidence that Ms Maguire had drowned.

He said he would contact the council and ask it to examine the feasibility of putting in a guard rail at the harbour.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Worthington welcomed the coroner saying he would raise the matter with the county council.

Glad

"We are very happy about that. We knew he could make recommendations and we are very glad he is prepared to do it and he sees a need to do it," she said.

She added that the family would also be approaching the council over the issue.

"It is an uneven surface. Anybody could trip and fall in during the day. You don't have to be drunk or anything else - it's a massive drop down," Ms Worthington said.

"They need to put at least a rail up or even lights so someone knows they are leaving the road and going to a harbour."

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