Three teenage boys aged 14, 16 and 17 have been killed in a horrific car crash in Co Tipperary.
Two other teenagers were also seriously injured. Gardai say all five were from the area near Nenagh.
They were travelling in a car that left the road and hit a tree at Kilboy on the Nenagh to Dolla road at around 7.30pm on Tuesday.
Two young men died at the scene, while a third was brought to hospital where he later died.
A 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl were being treated for serious injuries at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick last night.
Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey described the deaths as a terrible tragedy.
He pointed out that the number of people killed on Irish roads last year was the lowest since records began.
He said this was down to a change in driver behaviour, as well as improved enforcement.
But Mr Dempsey appealed for all road users to continue their efforts to reduce road deaths.
Garda Supt Robert Noonan said the emergency services had been confronted with an “absolutely horrendous” scene after the crash.
He said gardai, fire services and ambulance personnel had done their best to save lives at the scene after they responded to the crash.
Supt Noonan said the weather conditions at the time were dry, although the roads were slightly greasy.
He added: “It's absolutely a terrible tragedy to wake up to on the first day of January 2009 for everybody in the community.”
Supt Noonan said his thoughts were with the victims’ families.
Silvermines parish priest Fr Brendan Moloney described the accident as a “major tragedy which has touched the lives of so many communities and parishes in North Tipperary”.
“The loss of so many young lives is a major tragedy, especially at this time of year. Our deepest sympathies are with the families affected by this awful tragedy,” Fr Moloney said.
Gardai are seeking witnesses to the crash.