Belfast Telegraph

Buncrana pier tragedy inquest will be held in November, says coroner

By Donna Deeney

The inquest into the deaths of five people who lost their lives in the Buncrana pier tragedy will be held over two days in November.

Sean McGrotty, his sons, Mark (12), and Evan (8), their grandmother, Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter, Jodie Lee (14) all lost their lives on March 20 last year when the car they were in slid off the pier and into Lough Swilly.

Mr McGrotty's baby daughter Rioghnach-Ann, who was also in the car, was the sole survivor of the tragedy.

Dr Denis McCauley, Coroner for Donegal, outlined the content of the inquest when it gets underway on November 22, which he said was to prevent adjournments.

Four members of Sean McGrotty's family attended the pre-evidential hearing at the Inishown Gateway Hotel, where Dr McCauley described the loss of life at the pier as a "terrible tragedy".

Mr McGrotty's father Noel, his daughter Shannon, brother Jim and sister-in- law Faye sat in silence during the brief hearing.

Louise James - Mr McGrotty's partner and mother of Mark, Evan and Rioghnach-Ann - was not at the brief hearing.

A jury will be appointed ahead of the formal opening and will hear evidence from 12 agreed witnesses out of 69 people who made statements to gardai.

Dr McCauley explained that the first inquest will be that of Sean McGrotty, who was behind the wheel of the family car when it entered the water.

Evidence of what happened at the Buncrana Pier on the fateful night will form the first part of the inquest, but Dr McCauley explained that he intended to "look at all piers and slipways in Donegal".

He also intends to look at guidelines for people about what to do if their car goes into water.

Expert witnesses from the Irish Water Safety Authority and the Road Safety Authority will also be called by the coroner, who has also asked Donegal County Council to provide both internal and external reports it has commissioned into the tragedy.

A representative of the company that insured Mr McGrotty's car, Eoin Armstrong, of Hegarty and Armstrong Insurers, Sligo, was also at the hearing.

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