Inquests into deaths of victims of Donegal pier tragedy will be held in November

 

Buncrana tragedy inquests will take two days

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Inquests into deaths of victims of Donegal pier tragedy will be held in November 

The inquests into the deaths of the five members of the one family who died after the car they were in slid into the water off a Donegal pier will take place in November.

Sean McGrotty (49), his sons Evan (8) and Mark (12); the boy's grandmother Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter Jodie Lee Tracey (14), all died when the Audi Q7 car they were in slid off a slipway into Lough Swilly at Buncrana on March 20th last year.

Mr McGrotty’s baby daughter, Rioghnanch, survived after Donegal man Davitt Walsh entered the water and took her from her father before the car sank.

A preliminary hearing into the deaths in Buncrana this afternoon heard that the inquest will take two days and will involve more than 12 witnesses.

Relatives of Mr McGrotty attended the brief hearing which was also attended by legal representatives for Donegal County Council and the insurer of the vehicle as well as gardaí.

Donegal coroner Denis McCauley told the hearing that 69 depositions have been given but only 12 of those witnesses will be required to give evidence at the inquest.

The coroner said the deaths were a terrible tragedy and he intended that the inquest would look primarily at the events of the night.

He said he the inquest would also look at piers and slipways in Donegal in general and he would also seek guidelines on what to do if a car enters the water.

Dr McCauley said a jury will be required for the inquest.

Donegal County Council will be asked to give evidence on the different piers and slipways in the county and also their own risk assessments of the pier prior to the tragedy and whether there has been any change in the risk assessment since.

The coroner said any reports on the tragedy will also be included. Solicitor for Donegal County Council, Michael Staines, said the council will fully cooperate completely and thoroughly with the inquest. He said a council report that is being carried out will be ready for the inquest.

Witnesses from the Irish Water Safety Authority and the Road Safety Authority will also give evidence. The coroner said he has also asked Audi as the manufacturer of the car to send a representative, but he has not heard back from the company.

Photographs from Garda scenes of crime officers will form part of the evidence, as will Garda forensic evidence and a Garda report on the vehicle.

The inquest will be mentioned at a hearing on September 27th and will then commence on November 22nd.