The fire on Glenamuck Road, in Carrickmines, was the largest in loss of life by fire in Ireland since 48 lives were claimed at the Stardust nightclub fire in 1981. Police confirmed that ten people, including two infants, were killed. All the victims were from the Lynch and Connors families.
Among the victims were Willie Lynch and Tara Gilbert, both in their 20s, and their children Jodie (8) and Kelsey (4). Tara had only recently announced she was expecting a third child. Thomas and Sylvia Connors also died alongside their children Jim, Christy and Mary. The final victim was named as Jimmy Lynch, aged in his late 30s. He was a brother of Willie and Sylvia.
The fire spread through two prefabricated units. Although the cause of the fire has still not been established but early indications are that it was not a criminal act. Investigations into the cause of the tragedy continue as campaigner warn that Traveller families face fire-safety risks due to overcrowding and poor maintenance on the sites, the Irish Times reports.
Margaret O’Leary, from Southside Traveller Action Group, told the Times those who died “were just beautiful, lovely families. The site up there, they had it spotless, really nice, flowers and everything.
“But they were living in portacabins up there. If they were living in bricks and mortar I’m sure some of them could have been saved. The families here are devastated and angry too. I’m angry.”
The local authority with jurisdiction over the area, the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said the temporary site was inspected every six months and equipped with fire extinguishers.
However, Pavee Point, a group who works to support the human rights for Irish Travellers, warned that funding cuts for Traveller accommodation were placing other lives at risk. Figures show funding provided for Traveller-specific accommodation has fallen by 90 percent. In the past five years it has fallen from from €35 million to just over €4 million.
Martin Collins, of Pavee Point told the Times that due to the housing crisis in Ireland a growing number of Traveller families were losing their private rented accommodation and ending up living in halting overcrowded sites.
He said “I could show you six or seven halting sites in north Co Dublin alone where there are serious overcrowding issues, along with poor maintenance and management.
“There are two, sometimes three, families in a single bay. I’ve no doubt there are major fire hazards.”
A book of condolence is open at the Mansion House, in Dublin, until 4pm on Tuesday. President Michael D Higgins was among the first people to sign the public book. There are also books of condolence at Carrickmines, Leopardstown Shopping Centre, Centra Stepaside, The Market in Belarmine, and at customer services in Dundrum Town Centre. Limerick City and County Council have also opened a book of condolence for the victims of the fire.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny ordered that flags on government building be flown at half-mast on the day of the victims funerals.