People killed in Carrickmines halting site fire remembered at memorial services

Parish priest says 'uncomfortable questions' must continue to be asked a year after the tragedy

People killed in Carrickmines halting site fire remembered at memorial services

Cards, flowers and toys are left as people pay their respects to the people who died in a fire tragedy on a halting site on Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines in 2015 | Image: RollingNews.ie

Memorial services for the victims of last year's Carrickmines fire have heard that more needs to be done to improve relations between Travellers and settled people.

Eleven people died when a blaze broke out in the Dublin halting site in the early hours of October 10th, 2015.

Thomas and Sylvia Connors, their children Jim, Christy, and baby Mary; Jimmy Lynch; Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert and their daughters Jodie, Kelsey and their unborn child, all lost their lives in the fire. 

At a service today in Balally, Fr Dermot Lane said the anniversary of their deaths raised a number of difficult questions.

"Has anything changed in society in our relationships with the Travelling community in the last 12 months?" he asked.

"Have adequate safeguards been installed on halting sites to ensure that nothing like this occurs again?

"Have appropriate support structures been put in place in Traveller accommodation so that this kind of tragedy does not happen again?

"These are uncomfortable questions for all of us to ask as we remember the Carrickmines tragedy today."

Parish priest of the Travelling people Derek Farrell told a service in Bray that the families' lives have been changed forever.

He said much good work had been done since the tragedy to repair relations between the Travelling community and settled people, and to improve the living conditions.

"There is evidence in the past year of various statutory agencies and services, government departments, and local authorities widely consulting and closely working with the various national and local Traveller organisations and communities.

"This close cooperation, consultation, collaboration is going in the right direction but more is needed," he said. 

The graves of members of the Lynch and Gilbert families were blessed after the services.

How does it compare?

Newstalk Breakfast's Kieran Cuddihy, who was at the site of the fire on Glenamuck Road earlier today, said it remains vacant.

The surviving members have since moved to a nearby area on the Ballyogan Road.

"It's an old car park. You can actually see the lines still are there from car parking spaces," he said. 

All the units are well spaced apart, he said, but there are some problems with this site too. 

"It's very exposed, very windy, hoarding often gets blown away, it is an old car park.

"It's also 700 metres in from the road and it has a barrier at the entrance - a height restriction barrier - which means that fire engines might have difficulty accessing the site."

This caused problems for an ambulance who was called to the site after a resident had a heart attack, he said. 

"It took about 10 minutes to get him down the 700 metre lane to where the ambulance had to stop, because it couldn't go any further."

Last November, Newstalk's Pat Kenny went to see living conditions at a Dublin halting site.

"The people here live in third world conditions," Kenny said of the Finglas site.

Shipping containers were being used to house families, and electrical wires had been left out in the open.

"It's meant to be a temporary site, but it's here for the last 24 years - the conditions and the things that you see the people living in here is here for the last 10 years," primary healthcare worker Mary Collins said.