Belfast Telegraph

Inquiry plea over fireman death


An independent inquiry should be held into the death of a fireman who plunged through a burning roof in Northern Ireland almost |a decade ago, it has been claimed.

Joe McCloskey (50) died while tackling a blaze at the Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady, Co Londonderry, on Halloween Night in 2003.

The storeroom roof he was working on collapsed, plunging him into the flames below. SDLP MLA John Dallat said: “Surely that family deserve to know who gave an order to go on a roof and who is hiding behind the wall of silence.”

Mr Dallat challenged Dr Andrew McCormack, the Health Department’s permanent secretary, to reflect on the damning evidence presented to the Public Accounts Committee yesterday on the standard of senior management within the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Mr McCloskey, a father-of-five from Dungiven, was the first firefighter to be killed on duty here in almost 10 years. He suffered burns to 95% of his body after the roof gave way.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service did carry out an investigation but it failed to establish who gave the order for Mr McCloskey to go on to the roof.

Mr Dallat called upon the Health Department, which has responsibility for the Fire Service, to reconsider a decision not to order an independent inquiry.

“The firefighters are experiencing very low levels of morale as a direct result of bad senior management,” he said. “The family of Joe McCloskey, the fireman who lost his life tragically in November 2003, is a particular case.” He called on Dr McCormick to review the inquiry decision.

“Dr McCormick, given the evidence heard today, would you please go back and reflect on the department's decision not to grant an independent inquiry into Joe McCloskey's death?” he said.

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