Funeral for members of extended family who died in Donegal to take place Thursday

Gardaí have thanked a man who saved an infant's life at Donegal pier

A funeral service for five victims of the same family who died after a car plunged off a pier and into the sea in Donegal  will take place on Thursday.

Sean McGrotty (49) died along with his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels (59) and Ruth's daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14) at Buncrana on Sunday evening.

Mr McGrotty lived with his wife Louise and their children at St Eithne's Park in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry.

Ruth Daniels lived with her daughter Jodie Lee and her four sons Joshua, Kyle, Nathan and Jonathan at Ederowen.

Louise McGrotty had been at a family event in England and returned home on Sunday night only to be told that her husband, her two sons, her mother and her sister had all died in the tragedy.

The funeral service will be held at the Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, Derry.

Books of condolence for the victims of the tragedy will also be opened in Buncrana and in Derry.

The Daniels and McGrotty families say they are devastated by the tragic events of last night.

A statement has been issued by Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney on the family's behalf.

They say they have been inundated with support and sympathy from the local community and further afield and that it is deeply appreciated.

However, they are appealing for privacy to grieve for their loved ones.

In a separate statement, President Michael D Higgins says he heard "with the greatest sadness of the terrible loss of life of a family in Buncrana. 

"Sabina and I wish to express our deepest sympathies to the family and their communities. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam," he adds.

These women from Derry came to Buncrana to pay their respects earlier today:

Tragedy

Jim McGrotty, a brother of Sean, told The Irish Times: "There has been a constant stream of callers arriving at the house since word of who was involved has become public".

"On behalf of the family we wish to thank those people for their support and for their love at this very difficult time for us all".

"Words cannot express the enormity of the tragedy which has befallen our family. We are all numbed by this tragedy which has visited us".

"If there is anything good which has come out of it, it is the fact that baby Rionaghac-Ann has been saved".

Reports suggest Rionaghac-Ann, Louise's four-month-old baby, was handed to a bystander, Davitt Walsh from Kerrykeel, who is understood to have swam towards the sinking car to help.

Mr McGrotty thanked the "brave" man on behalf of the family.

St Eithne's Primary School in Derry has posted a statement, saying their community is "devastated by the loss of our Primary 4 pupil Evan McGrotty and his big brother, and our former pupil, Mark".

"We also remember the other members of the family who so tragically lost their lives. We offer our deepest sympathies to the family on their unimaginable loss", it adds.

Mark and Evan Grotty | Image: St Eithne's Primary School

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said on Twitter: "Very sad news of fatalities in an incident at Buncrana Pier. Thoughts are with relatives of those involved and rescue services".

Mr McGuinness says he has spoken to the boys' mother, Louise.

The baby is in a stable condition in Letterkenny General Hospital, where she is "doing well", according to Garda Superintendent Colm Nevin.

He spoke to the media earlier.

John McCarter is the lifeboat operations manager at Lough Swilly. He told Newstalk Lunchtime the incident happened very quickly.

Earlier, eyewitness Francis Crawford - who was the first person at the scene - gave a harrowing account of what he saw on the pier to Newstalk Breakfast.

The coastguard said the accident happened at around 7.45pm on Sunday.