Belfast Telegraph

I just want this to end, says mum at start of Buncrana pier tragedy inquest

By Leona O'Neill

A mother who lost five members of her family in the Buncrana pier tragedy says she is strong but that she "wants the next two days to be over" as the inquest into her loved ones' deaths opens in Donegal.

Louise James lost her husband, two sons, sister and mother when the vehicle they were travelling in slid off a slipway into Buncrana's Lough Swilly.

Louise's partner Sean McGrotty (48), their two sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), her mother Ruth Daniels and her sister Jodie-Lee all died when their Audi Q7 sank in the harbour on March 20 last year.

The sole survivor, four-month old Rioghnach McGrotty, was rescued from the vehicle by passer-by Davitt Walsh. The baby's father passed her out of the window of the sinking vehicle to Mr Walsh after he swam out to the family's aid.

The family's parish priest, Father Paddy O'Kane from Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, said that Louise was "taking one day at a time".

"I called with Louise a few days ago and she said to me, 'I feel strong, that I'm taking one day at a time, that I simply want these two days to be over so Rioghnach and I can go on and have as normal a life as possible in the circumstances'.

"I would like to ask people to please let Louise have space and don't intrude on her privacy at this time."

The incident was one of the worst drowning tragedies in recent Irish history. Thousands of people packed into Holy Family Church for the funerals of the five victims.

There were poignant scenes as the white coffins of tragic schoolgirl Jodie-Lee and devoted brothers Mark and Evan were carried into the church alongside their father and grandmother's coffins.

In June of last year, Louise thanked people from all over the world who had sent her their support in the wake of her loss. She said she was particularly moved by children who sent their pocket money to support her.

She paid tribute to those who helped at the scene and who supported her, including her 'tower of strength' Fr Paddy O'Kane. The inquest is scheduled to last for two days and will open in Buncrana's Lake of Shadows Hotel this morning at 9.30am.

Belfast Telegraph

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