Parishioners to fund raise for travellers' halting site blaze victims


Local parishioners are to fund raise for the victims of a blaze which claimed 10 lives in Ireland, a Catholic priest has said.

Members of two families, including five children, are believed to be among the dead after the blaze broke out at a halting site for travellers in Carrickmines, south Dublin, at about 4am on Saturday. A months-old baby died in hospital.

The families are understood to have been living at the encampment off the Glenamuck Road, just south of the M50 motorway and a few miles from Sandyford village, for about eight years.

The fire is being treated as a tragic accident, a traveller support group said.

Fr Andrew O'Sullivan, parish priest from neighbouring St Patrick's Church Glencullen led a solemn Sunday Mass in the hills surrounding the city.

"It is a time of sadness and great loss for them. People are very much aware of the fragility of life and how these terrible tragedies can happen without any warning or notice."

He told parishioners: "We ask that people wanting to express their solidarity with the community, we have spoken to St Vincent's De Paul and if people wish to give in some way they may do so."

More details are due to be announced by the Catholic anti-poverty charity soon. Books of condolence have already been opened in the local area.

A Garda spokesman confirmed the death toll had climbed to 10 after the baby girl, understood to have turned five months old at the end of September, died in hospital.

Fr O'Sullivan said they prayed for all the dead and injured during Sunday services throughout the parish.

"We are just remembering them in our thoughts and prayers and on a more practical level the local community are offering their support in every way they can.

"We are going to work with St Vincent De Paul to see what we can do on a slightly bigger scale to help those who have been left behind by this."

Parishioner Ned O'Connor loitered in the churchyard after Mass, discussing the tragedy with fellow parishioners.

"It is unbelievable, two families wiped out on one night.  This is one of the biggest tragedies in the country this fire."

He said those at the halting site had been good neighbours.

"They never seemed to interfere with anyone, it is a lovely site, they always kept it very well."

Flowers were laid near the gates of the scene as members of the local community paid their respects.

The halting site was described as four bay and is understood to have contained a number of caravans.

The alarm was raised at 4.24am yesterday with six units of the Dublin Fire Brigade on the scene and a number of paramedics and ambulances.

Gardai are investigating the cause of the blaze but early indications are that it was not a criminal act and it is not being treated as suspicious.

Emergency services said two adults and two children were taken from the scene to hospital while a number of others were confirmed dead at the halting site.

It is understood the scene was difficult to examine due to the extensive damage caused by the blaze and the number of people caught up in it.

Forensic examinations continued late into the evening with Dr Margaret Bolster, assistant state pathologist, at the halting site leading the technical analysis.