Carrickmines fire: Family takes legal action over fatal blaze

Grandparent of two children who were orphaned by the fire is suing county council

The halting site in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, where 10 people died in a fire in 2015. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

The halting site in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, where 10 people died in a fire in 2015. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A Traveller family, who lost 10 loved ones in one of the worst fire disasters in the State’s history, is taking legal action against their local authority.

Josie Connors is suing Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on behalf of her grandchildren, Mick (9) and Tom (7).

She confirmed her solicitor, Robert Lynham, had lodged papers in the High Court against the council, indicating her intention to take action against the council.

She and her husband Jim are rearing the two children after they lost their parents, Tom (28) and Sylvia (nee Lynch, 30), along with eight others in a fire at a temporary halting site in October 2015.

Mick and Tom survived the fire which engulfed their parents mobile home on the Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines in south Dublin, two and a half years ago.

Josie and Jim were sleeping in an adjacent mobile home on the site when the fire broke out in the early hours of Saturday, October 15th, 2015. Mick, then six, slept at the foot of their bed.

Tom was pulled from the flames which killed his parents and their other three children, Jim (5), Christy (3) and six-month-old Mary.

Also killed were Sylvia’s brother, Willy Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27) who was pregnant, her daughter Jodie Gilbert (9) and their daughter Kelsey (4); and Jimmy Lynch (39) who was Willy’s and Sylvia’s brother.

Social housing

The council has since provided group housing for the four surviving households that were on the site, on ground directly behind where they had lived, on Glenamuck Road. The families pay rent to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council like other social housing tenants.

No liability for the fire by the council has been alleged, though questions have been raised by the family about how closely the council had placed mobile homes to each other. The original fire spread from one mobile home to another, about a metre away.

Questions were also raised about the water supply to the hydrant outside the site.

Ms Connors said her concern was for the future of the two grandchildren and her intention was to ensure sufficient funds for their upbringing. She and her husband are in their late 50s and are not working.

“Our only concern now is for the two boys and making sure they’re looked after,” she said on Friday.

Speaking to The Irish Times last August, when they moved into their new homes, they described being “over the moon”.

The council “do the best they can”, said Jim. “Anything we ask they come out and do it.”

Water tank

A large water tank in case of fire is on site while fire alarms are wired directly to the emergency services.

“If we’d had them before we mightn’t even be in this situation,” said Jim. “If we’d had running water on the site it mightn’t have been as bad. They gave us plenty of room here. I hope no one has to go through what we had to go through to get this. If we’d got this 10 years ago we might have had all our family. It could have been a different story.”

They wouldn’t want to live anywhere but close to where their young family died. “Even though it’s hurtful, the hurt will never go away and the memories can’t go away, but the feeling might just ease off after a while, and we might feel a little bit better for being here,” says Josie.

“We won’t be around forever, but [the children] will be for a long time, with the help of God. They’ll have this place to live now. It’s safe. It’s all we want for them. Mick is after being a great scholar. Magnificent now compared to what he was ... We’ll keep them in school and whatever comes out of that we don’t know.”

A spokesman for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said: “The council does not have any comment to make on individual legal cases”.