Two men die after shop wall collapse

Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 00:00

Investigations are continuing after two men were killed and four others were injured when a 12m-high wall collapsed at a DIY and garden centre in Longford yesterday.

Father of three Seán Mulleady (47) from Drumlish, Co Longford was killed when the internal block wall came crashing down at the Connacht Gold DIY and garden centre on the Athlone Road in Longford town at lunchtime.

Father of two Paddy Gaffney (65) from Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon, died in hospital a number of hours after the collapse. A third man, in his late 20s or early 30s and understood to be an employee at the shop, remained in critical condition last night.

A further three men in their 30s, 40s and 60s were also taken to hospital suffering from crush injuries resulting from the collapse.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) examined the scene yesterday. The wall ran the length of the building and separated the agricultural section from the rest of the shop. The upper section of two-thirds the length of the wall appeared to have fallen in the collapse.

Mr Mulleady, whose late father Seán was a Fianna Fáil councillor in Longford, lived in Drumlish with his wife Theresa, daughter Claire and sons David and Mark. The couple’s children are in their teens.

‘Devastated’

Cllr Martin Mulleady, a cousin of the deceased, said the family were “devastated”. “I’ve only spoken to them briefly because they are in shock,” he said. He described Mr Mulleady a “a decent man, a very good man”. He said the late Mr Mulleady helped him with his political career.

“He would have been a well-known businessman. He would have been involved in the Mulleady Group,” Cllr Mulleady explained.

According to Cllr Mulleady, his cousin was a regular customer at the shop and would have been on the road a lot. “He was gifted with his hands and a hard worker,” he said. The community was in shock at the news, he said. “It’s been a big shock to take in, a lot of people can’t believe it.”

Roscommon mayor Tom Crosby extended his sympathy to the Gaffney family last night.

“I would have known him very well. It’s an awful tragedy, he is a highly respected man here in the community,” he said.

Mr Gaffney and his wife Patsy have two children living in the area, Denise and John, and grandchildren, said Cllr Crosby.

“There is a terrible sense of sadness all around our rural community because he was very well known. He would have had a wide circle of friends around Tarmonbarry.”

Supt Denis Shields said gardaí were called to the scene at 1.47pm.

Sympathy

“On arrival, gardaí discovered that an internal wall had collapsed and five people were injured,” he said. He extended the sympathy of the Garda to the families of the deceased men.

“Fire service and ambulance crews attended the scene and removed the injured to Mullingar and Tullamore hospitals.

Supt Shields declined to speculate on whether high winds may have contributed to the collapse. HSA investigators conducted extensive surveys of the building last night.

The refurbished shop, which employees six full-time staff, opened in April of last year. Speaking from the scene of the incident, Connacht Gold chief executive Aaron Forde said: “The board, management and staff of Connacht Gold Co-op expresses deepest sympathy to the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.