Dáil holds minute’s silence to mark Donegal and Brussels tragedies

House united in grief and condemnation of terrorist attacks

The Dáil has observed a minute's silence for the victims of the Donegal drowning tragedy and the Brussels bombings.

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his “sincere and deepest’’ sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives in Donegal. “Our hearts go out to them,’’ he said.

Sean McGrotty, his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), together with their granny, Ruth Daniels and her daughter, Jodie Lee Daniels (14) all died when Mr McGrotty’s Audi Q7 slid off the slipway at Buncrana pier on Sunday evening.

Mr Kenny said he understood no Irish citizen was among the dead and injured in what appeared to be terrorist activities in Brussels.


Acting Tanáiste Joan Burton said Donegal was no stranger to very serious accidents involving loss of lives, and it was sad that a very pleasant spring day should turn into tragedy.

She said the atrocities in Brussels showed there were efforts to destroy freedom.

Green Party TD Eamon Ryan said a lovely family occasion had slipped into unspeakable tragedy in Donegal. Lives had been torn apart in Brussels, he added, and the bombings represented an attack on European values.

Independent TD Shane Ross said what happened in Donegal was devastating for the local people and the people of the country. There were heroes in Donegal, he added. He expressed “revulsion’’ at what happened in Brussels, adding democracy throughout the world was threatened.

Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle joined with other TDs in the expressions of sympathy.

Books of condolence for the families of the dead in the Buncrana pier tragedy have been opened in the Co Donegal town, as well as the victims’ hometown of Derry city.

Mr McGrotty’s four month old baby, Rionaghac-Ann, was the only survivor, handed by Mr McGrotty to Davitt Walsh who swam out to the sinking car and managed to save the child.

The mother of the children, Mr McGrotty’s partner and daughter of Mrs Daniels, Louise, was away for the weekend when the tragedy happened but has since returned home.

The funerals of the five will be held together on Thursday afternoon in the Church of the Holy Family in Derry. Yesterday, Father Paddy O’Kane of the parish said it was difficult to find words at such a time, especially what to say to Louise.

In all of his ministry, he has never experienced a tragedy on such a scale, he told Highland Radio.

In Buncrana, a book of condolence in the town’s civic offices is being signed by local people. The first message, from the chair of the Inishowen Municipal District, Cllr Rena Donaghey, says the “five angels gone to heaven” and all are in the community’s thoughts and prayers.

The local credit union has opened an account for donations which will ultimately go to Louise and baby Rionaghac-Ann. The account is Buncrana credit union, number 23688.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times