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£100k fine over GAA star's death

Heartbreak of parents as concrete firm admits safety breaches after industrial accident

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 23/10/2015

Brian and Eileen Maguire
Brian and Eileen Maguire
Fermanagh GAA player Brian Og Maguire died following an industrial accident
Liam McCaffrey, Director Quinn Building Products Ltd, leaving Omagh Court

The heartbroken parents of a Fermanagh GAA player killed in a freak workplace accident say their lives have been changed for ever.

Brian Og Maguire died after being struck by a steel cable at a concrete factory in Derrylin in 2012.

Yesterday Quinn Building Products Ltd was fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches.

The Maguire family said the tragedy was an accident waiting to happen.

Relatives wept in court as the company was fined £50,000 for each of the two charges it had pleaded guilty to, plus costs of more than £7,000.

Afterwards his parents said the fact that Brian Og's death could have been prevented made the tragedy even harder to take.

His mother Eileen said: "The loss of my beloved Brian Og is something I will never come to terms with.

"The death of a child is the most severe of all emotional issues.

"I agonise over his last moments and just wish I could have got to him.

"The horror of what happened to him will haunt me every day for the rest of my life."

Quinn Building Products Ltd, which was not involved with the business at the time of the accident, said "significant changes" have since been implemented.

Mr Maguire (24), from Lisnaskea, had worked as a general operative at the factory for 16 months.

On the morning of September 13, 2012, he was tensioning a steel rope in preparation for the manufacture of precast cement slabs.

However, the steel rope came loose at one end and flew towards Mr Maguire, who was positioned in a safety cage.

The rope was forced behind Mr Maguire where it struck an object, causing it to splay.

Two individual strands struck the deceased, causing fatal injuries.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that three wedge segments which grip the steel rope showed signs of wear and damage.

The tapered barrel, in which the grips were positioned, were worn beyond the manufacturer's recommended limits.

This resulted in the rope gradually slipping through the grips during tensioning and being released with a force estimated at about six tonnes.

The company did not have suitable arrangements in place to check the grips and barrels were suitable for use.

Nor did it have a proper system to manage the use and rotation of these safety critical items.

In August Quinn Building Products Ltd admitted it had failed to ensure the health and safety of an employee.

It also admitted it had failed to maintain work equipment.

Delivering his judgment at Omagh Crown Court, Judge Paul Ramsey said it had been a "dreadful and freak accident".

The court heard Brian Og had been "terribly unlucky", but breaches of health and safety legislation had led to his death.

There had been previous incidents where a wire had come loose, albeit they differed to this "peculiar" accident.

Judge Ramsey added: "A culture of acceptance had grown up that this type of mishap was almost an occupational hazard, and because no one was hurt there appeared to be no desire to report it or to address it, and I cannot ignore that." Judge Ramsey referred to eight victim impact statements which, he said, made for "very difficult reading".

"They are articulate, eloquent and moving testimonies to the short life of a young man who was so cruelly taken from them," he said.

Brian Og was part of the Fermanagh senior GAA panel.

He had played in the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final defeat by Down three months before his death in the factory.

Brian also represented Ireland at under-17 level in Internationals Rules against Australia and was captain of the Lisnaskea Emmetts team that won the All-Ireland Intermediate Football championship in Croke Park in 2011.

A week before his death he helped the Emmetts secure their place in the final of the Fermanagh Senior Championship for the first time since 1996.

‘We have been robbed of our only son and our future’

Full statement issued by parents Eileen and Brian Maguire:

“On Thursday, September 13, 2012, the happy life we knew ended and we were plunged into this awful, ongoing nightmare from which there is no escape.

“Our only son Brian Og had been killed in Quinn’s Pre Stress Plant. No one can begin to imagine the devastation that was brought into our home that morning or the magnitude of our loss.

“We have been robbed of our only son and our future. The girls have lost their only brother. All our hopes and dreams are shattered and our lives changed forever. The horror of what we had to face that day is still unbearable, the pain excruciating and relentless. It is very difficult to accept that he is gone.

“Brian Og’s death was not only a devastating loss to us but also his girlfriend Meadhbh, our extended family, his friends, and team-mates in Lisnaskea Emmetts, Fermanagh, and further afield.

“After waiting three long, torturous years for the results of the inquiry into the death of our son, we sat in court and listened to the harrowing details of the breaches of health and safety that caused his death.

“The defence barrister described the death of our son as a ‘freakish accident’ and a ‘perfect storm’ but the truth of the matter is that if the proper health and safety procedures had been in place our son would be alive today.

“Far from being a ‘freak accident’, it was an accident waiting to happen.

“As for ‘uniquely unlucky’, yes Brian Og was very unlucky to be working in a place where carelessness, negligence and a haphazard approach to health and safety seemed to be acceptable.

“As the mother of Brian Og I have a lot of unanswered questions.

“The loss of my beloved Brian Og is something I will never come to terms with. The death of a child is the most severe of all emotional issues. I agonise over his last moments and just wish I could have got to him. The horror of what happened to him will haunt me every day for the rest of my life.

“The fact that it could have been prevented makes it even harder to take.

“The penalty imposed on the company responsible for the death of Brian Og is of very little relevance to us, nor will it ease in any way the desperate situation we have been left in.

“For them it may be over today, but for us it will go on forever.”

Belfast Telegraph

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