Inquest into Carrickmines fire deaths to get under way

An inquest into the deaths of ten people in a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines in south Dublin is due to get under way today.

The fire which caused the deaths of five adults and five children including a baby occurred over three years ago.

However, the inquests were adjourned pending a decision from the Director of Public Prosecutions on whether the local authority – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council – should be prosecuted for breaches of health and safety regulations.

The Coroner’s Court was told last May that the DPP had ruled out a prosecution.

It was the greatest loss of life in a fire since the Stardust Disaster, and flags on Government buildings flew at half mast on the days of the funerals.

A message of sympathy from Pope Francis was read out at the masses.

The incident also highlighted the controversy about Traveller accommodation standards.

Those who died were Thomas Connors (27) his wife Sylvia (30), and their children Jim (5), Christy (3) and six-month-old Mary, Willie Lynch (25), a brother of Sylvia Connors, his partner Tara Gilbert (27), who was four months pregnant, and daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4); and 39-year-old Jimmy Lynch, another brother of Sylvia.

The Lynch family had been visiting the Connors family at the halting site on Glenamuck Road, and were staying in the same mobile home when the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning on 10 October 2015.

It was subsequently reported that an investigation by Dublin Fire Brigade found the source of the blaze was a cooker in the kitchen area.

The Coroner’s Court has already been told that the victims all died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation  

Two of the Connors children survived – nine-year-old Mick was sleeping with his grandparents in an adjacent caravan, while seven-year-old Tom was pulled from the fire by another resident of the halting site.

This person had also managed to get baby Mary out but she was placed in a second cabin and had to be rescued again when it also caught fire.

She died later in hospital.

In its report the fire brigade said that a 999 call was received at 4:21am and they were on the scene at 4:34am.

On arrival they found what was described as a young man carrying a small boy who was breathing.

The officers were directed to a second cabin which was also on fire and told there was a baby in there.

The infant was removed and taken to Tallaght Hospital but died of smoke inhalation. 

It was reported last April that the grandparents of the surviving children are taking legal action against Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council claiming the second unit was placed too close to the cabin that caught fire initially.

Residents of the halting site claimed that the council had re-positioned the units following upgrade works earlier that year.

The legal action also raises the lack of access to water supply on the site.

According to other reports social workers had raised concerns with the council about conditions on the site, particularly in regard to a lack of proper cooking facilities and overcrowding.

A spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said at the time that it could not comment on individual legal cases.

The inquest is due to hear depositions from 34 witnesses and could last for up to two weeks.