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Tributes paid to 'kind-hearted retired fire-fighter' killed in A1 crash

Eugene McNally was in his 50s

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 02/12/2015

Retired watch commander of red watch in Newry Fire Station, Eugene McNally .
Retired watch commander of red watch in Newry Fire Station, Eugene McNally .
Eugene McNally is in the centre of the photograph alongside six colleagues from Newry Fire Station
The incident happened close to the Donaghmore Road on Tuesday evening sometime before 6.30pm and diversions have been put in place. picture

Tributes have been paid to kind-hearted retired fire-fighter Eugene McNally following his tragic death in a crash on the A1.

Mr McNally, who was in his 50s, died on Tuesday evening after a two-vehicle collision on the main road between Belfast and Newry, Co Down.

The loving father and grandfather has been based at Newry Fire Station and had worked for the Fire & Rescue Service for over 32 years.

The Laurencetown man is survived by wife Christine, children Linzi, Laura, Paul and wider family.

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) paid tribute to the former watch commander.

NIFRS Southern Area Commander John Denvir said: “Our thoughts are with Eugene’s family at this very sad time.

“We were all deeply saddened about his death.

“Eugene was a well-respected colleague who was greatly admired for his dedication to the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service.

“Eugene was well known within the local area, so his death will be greatly felt across the community.

“It’s a very sad day for our station and the organisation.”

Mr McNally was remembered as a kind-hearted and popular employee and for his service to the community.

“We will always remember him for his work within the local community and his commitment to helping others,” Mr Denvir added.

“Eugene was also a very keen cyclist, who helped to raise money for many local charities in the area.

“Eugene was heavily involved in the recent cycling event held at Lurgan Fire Station in memory of a former colleague.

“His kind-hearted manner made him an extremely popular firefighter at Newry Fire Station.”

The sadness resulting from Mr McNally’s untimely death is being felt across the organisation.

“Firefighters across Northern Ireland work very closely together – we’re like family - so news like this impacts everyone,” he added.

“Eugene was a husband, father and esteemed colleague.  He will be greatly missed.”

A spokesman for Northern Ireland Fire Brigades Union offered condolences to Mr McNally’s family and friends.

“Eugene had been a former fire brigade union representative and was highly thought of by all his colleagues,” he added.

Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley said the community has been “stunned and deeply saddened by Eugene’s death”.

“Eugene was a man who served this community faithfully over many years as a member of the Fire and Rescue Service,” Mr Bradley said.

“On many occasions he put his own life on the line to save the lives of others and that only serves to underline the tragedy of his death in a road accident.

“He has been involved in many charitable and community events and gave of his time selflessly in order that others be remembered and respected.

“On behalf of the community here in Newry I want to express my deep sorrow to his immediate family and wide circle of friends.”

Mr McNally’s funeral is expected to take place on Saturday at St. Colman’s Church, Laurencetown with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Meanwhile, police are appealing for witnesses to the crash which happened at around 5.30pm on December 1.

Two men in their 30s, were taken to hospital following the crash, but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

PSNI Inspector Stephen Humphries said: “A silver Mazda 3 and blue Volkswagen Caddy were involved in the collision.

“I would ask anyone who witnessed those vehicles in the area before the road traffic collision to contact Ardmore police station or the collision investigation unit at Sprucefield on non emergency number 101.”

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