Belfast Telegraph

Victims of Fermanagh crash had friendship that spanned religious divide and border

By Rebecca Black

The two young men who died in a car crash in Fermanagh were a Catholic and a Protestant whose friendship crossed the religious divide and the border.

Apprentice joiner Sean Martin (18), from Pettigo in Co Donegal, and mechanic John Irwin (22) from Drumlegagh – between Newtownstewart and Drumquin, Co Tyrone – were killed in an accident just outside Kesh on Sunday afternoon.

It is understood that they died at the scene around 4.20pm.

Police in Enniskillen are investigating the single vehicle accident and have issued an appeal for anyone who may have witnessed the crash to come forward.

Mr Irwin, who attended Castlederg High School as a teenager and had an enduring passion for the farming life, worked as a mechanic for JB Plant Hire in Omagh along with his older brother James.

Director Brian Toal yesterday said staff at the firm were subdued because of the shock.

"He was a lovely, lovely fella. He had been with us for about three years; very good at his job and very well liked," he said. "Such an unfortunate incident. The whole firm has been very subdued, we just can't take it in."

Tributes were being paid to the young man– known as Jay to his friends – on his personal Facebook page.

Mr Martin, a former pupil of Colaiste Cholmcille in Ballyshannon, worked in his father's joinery firm JM Joinery as an apprentice and also attended South West College in Omagh on a bench hand joinery course.

Pettigo parish priest Father Owen McEneaney said the whole community was devastated by the crash.

"Sean was a very likeable young man, always walking around with a smile on his face," he said. "The family is completely devastated."

DUP West Tyrone MLA Tom Buchanan (left) is a neighbour of John Irwin's family and said local people were shocked by his sudden death.

"This will be a devastating time for both the families involved and I hope that the strength of support which will come from the local community can be of some comfort to them," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with both families as they struggle to deal with this terrible tragedy and the loss they have suffered."

John is survived by his parents John and June and two older siblings, while Sean is survived by his parents John and Grace, as well as brother Brian.

Funeral details for either of the young men had not been confirmed last night.

A spokesperson for the PSNI urged any witnesses to the accident to come forward: "Police continue to investigate the incident and would appeal to anyone with any information to contact police on 0845 600 8000."

FACTFILE

e Almost 50 people have died in road accidents in Northern Ireland so far this year – more than the total number for 2012.

e There have been 49 deaths so far this year with almost two months still to go, compared to 48 for 2012.

e This time last year, 36 people had died in road accidents – the lowest number since records began.

e Seven people have been killed in Fermanagh on the roads so far this year, compared to three for the same period last year

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