Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle caravan park deaths: Elderly couple 'lived for one another'

Great nieces of Nan and Francie O'Reilly said the pair were 'made for each other'

By Lindsay Fergus

An elderly couple who lived for one another died together in a tragedy at a caravan park in one of Northern Ireland's best-loved seaside resorts.

The pensioners' bodies were discovered around 3pm yesterday in their permanent residence - a mobile home - in Bonny's Caravan Park on the Tullybrannigan Road in Newcastle.

They have been named locally as Francie and Nan O'Reilly, who were from the Co Down town. It is understood they had no children.

The couple's great nieces said they "lived for each other".

Bernadette O'Reilly told the BBC said: "They were a lovely wee couple, they were just made for each other."

Neighbours of the popular couple, who were well-known in Newcastle, have been left shocked by the tragic deaths. Mr and Mrs O'Reilly had last been seen in the area on Tuesday morning.

One local, who did not want to be named, told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "I just saw him yesterday, he crossed the road in front of me. I used to meet him every morning."

He described the victims as "very quiet and pleasant", adding they were "very well-known".

Commenting on the grim discovery, he added: "I just can't take it in. You don't think when you speak to someone, it's the last time you are going to see them. It's a dreadful thing to come home to."

Several agencies are involved in the investigation into the deaths including the PSNI and Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI).

A PSNI spokesman said: "Inspector David McClements can confirm that police attended a caravan site on Tullybrannigan Road in Newcastle at around 3pm on Wednesday 21st January.

"Two bodies were discovered at a caravan on the site and a multi-agency investigation is now under way into the cause of the deaths. There are no further details at present."

A HSENI spokesman commented: "HSENI is looking into the circumstances of a fatal incident at a caravan park in the Newcastle area."

It is understood the couple's pet also perished in the accident.

Although the authorities had not released any further information last night, South Down MP Margaret Ritchie claimed the deaths were being treated as suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

She said: "I have been in touch with local police who have informed me of the discovery of two bodies in a south Down Caravan site. I'm shocked and deeply saddened by this awful discovery.

"I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of these two people who are undoubtedly going through a deeply traumatic and difficult time. I have no doubt that this tight-knit community will rally round and support them throughout the coming days and weeks."

Martina Milligan, who lives in a house overlooking the victims' caravan, was moved to tears when she learned of her neighbours' deaths.

"I am devastated and I am shocked," she said.

"When I saw the fire brigade, I thought there had been a fire. I just can't believe it. I just do not want to think about what happened in there. They were so happy together."

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