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Anguish of rush hour bus tragedy girl's family

By Matthew McCreary

A teenage girl who was killed in a tragic bus accident was last night described as a “wonderful and much-loved daughter”.

Ciara Park (16) died a short time after being freed from beneath a double-decker bus in Belfast city centre on Tuesday.

Horrified shoppers and office workers had watched helplessly as the student was knocked down at the busy junction of Royal Avenue and Castle Place in the heart of the city’s shopping district.

Firefighters used specialist equipment to lift the bus while paramedics treated her. She was taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital but died a short time later.

The Dunmurry girl was a GCSE pupil at St Dominic’s Grammar School for girls on the Falls Road where principal Carol McCann last night paid tribute to her.

“The school is devastated at losing Ciara,” she said.

“She was a valued member of our school community. The teaching staff and pupils are all devastated.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor Angela Nelson said Ciara’s family are heartbroken.

“Ciara was a wonderful and much-loved daughter.

If any good can come from Ciara’s death |then it must be that something is done in this area to improve road safety

“It is tragic to lose your child at any time of the year but especially as she was in town with her father and brother doing Christmas shopping,” added Cllr Nelson.

And a spokeswoman for Translink said: “We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family.

“Our thoughts are also with the driver.”

It has emerged that Ciara was the third person to have been hit by a bus in the city centre since Saturday.

A 48-year-old man is in a critical condition in intensive care after he was hit by a bus at the junction of Donegall Square North and Donegall Square West on Saturday evening.

And yesterday, a girl was hit by a bus as she stepped off a kerb, but was not injured.

There have been calls for the city centre area to be fully pedestrianised.

Lisburn councillor Matthew McDermott said: “Anyone who has shopped in Belfast will know that this area is chaotic with traffic and pedestrians, especially around the rush hour.

“If any good can come from Ciara’s death then it must be that something is done in this area to improve road safety both for commuters and pedestrians.”

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers said: “This is a dreadful tragedy in the heart of our city and we need to make sure there are no more accidents like this.”

Ciara’s funeral will be held on Saturday at the Church of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Kilwee.

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