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Northern Ireland school mourns a third pupil to lose his life on roads since 2014

By Claire O'Boyle

The SDLP's Colin McGrath has offered support to his former school after the third road death of a pupil or former pupil in three years.

Conall O'Hare, an A-level student at St Patrick's Grammar in Downpatrick, was buried on Saturday.

He was killed when the car he was driving crashed last week. No other vehicle was involved.

His death came two weeks after an accident claimed the life of former St Patrick's student Christopher Martin from Crossgar, and less than three years after past pupil Jack Murnin (20) died in a three-car collision.

Jack's father Gerard had been killed on the roads 15 years earlier.

The SDLP's education spokesman last night said it was vital that the proper help and support was in place for students at St Patrick's Grammar.

"The news of Conall's death is absolutely tragic, and I'd like to offer my sympathies to his family, as I do also to the family of young Christopher who died earlier this month, and Jack who died a few years ago," said Mr McGrath.

"All three young men having attended St Patrick's, my former school, is very upsetting for the pupils and staff there and for everyone in the community.

"We need to make sure the Education Authority is doing everything possible to support the staff and students because it's at times like these when young people feel especially vulnerable and need a lot of love and support."

Conall, from Castlewellan, died last Tuesday days after celebrating his 18th birthday when the Peugot 207 he was driving crashed on the Ballydugan Road outside Downpatrick at around 10.30pm. He was buried at St Patrick's Church in Bryansford at the weekend, with his schoolfriends forming a guard of honour.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on behalf of the family, Conall's aunt Nora McMahon described him as a "lovely, helpful, thoughtful and caring" young man who was hoping to go to Queen's University in September to do economics and business studies.

Keen footballer Christopher, who was also 18 and who left St Patrick's last year after finishing his A-levels, is understood to have been taking a year out before starting university, and was working at Sports Direct in Downpatrick.

He died when the car he was driving left the Saintfield Road in Crossgar at around 4am on April 2 after a night out with friends.

The fatalities follow the death of former St Patrick's "computer whizz" Jack from Downpatrick.

He was killed on the Strangford Road just days before Christmas 2014.

Speaking at the time, heartbroken mum Pauline said: "Everyone loved Jack.

"There is not one person who has a bad word to say about him.

"He lost his daddy and he was a sensitive person and was someone who could go out and enjoy himself without drink.

"He just loved the craic and he loved people.

"He was a people person and we all miss him."

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