Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Call for new fireman death inquiry

Joe McCloskey died of his injuries after falling through the roof of a store room during a fire call-out in Limavady in 2003

An independent inquiry should be held into the death of a fireman who plunged through a burning roof in Northern Ireland almost a decade ago, it has been claimed.

Joe McCloskey, 50, died while tackling a blaze at the Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady, Co Londonderry, on Halloween Night in 2003. The storeroom roof he was working on collapsed, plunging him into the flames below.

SDLP MLA John Dallat said: "Surely that family deserve to know who gave an order to go on a roof and who is hiding behind the wall of silence."

Mr McCloskey, a father-of-five from Dungiven, was the first firefighter to be killed on duty in Northern Ireland in almost 10 years.

He was called to the hotel to put out the fire but suffered burns to 95% of his body after the roof gave way.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service did carry out an investigation but it failed to establish who gave the order for Mr McCloskey to go on to the roof and nobody was ever disciplined.

Mr Dallat called upon the Health Department to reconsider a decision not to order an independent inquiry.

"The firefighters of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are experiencing very low levels of morale as a direct result of bad senior management," he said. "The family of Joe McCloskey, the fireman who lost his life tragically in November 2003, is a particular case.

He called on health department permanent secretary Dr Andrew McCormick to review the Government's decision.

"Dr McCormick, given the evidence heard today, would you please go back and reflect on the department's decision not to grant an independent inquiry into fireman Joe McCloskey's death?" he said.

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